With threats of a “Christmas gift” emanating from North Korea this week, Gen. Jack Keane told Fox News that the Trump administration may have no alternative but to respond with an escalation of pressure against the Kim Jong Un regime. Playing off former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s critique that President Trump was not going as hard against North Korea as he needs to, Keane said there was some truth to that opinion.
“He’s right in the fact that there is more that can be done,” Keane told host Martha MacCallum. “Russia and China, even though they voted for the UN resolutions three times, have never abided by them. We’ve got to sanction China, sanction their banks and the firms involved. The Russians, we can stop them, we can stop them cold and we should be doing that.”
Two weeks ago, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song warned that it was up to Washington decide what type of “Christmas gift” it received from Pyongyang. If the U.S. would not back down from its “hostile policies” requiring North Korea to denuclearize, he said, they would get a present to remember. Many in the international community took this as Kim Jong Un threatening to resume missile launches and tests that have been abandoned for much of the last two years. Such a move would undoubtedly make it all the more difficult for the two countries to come back to the negotiating table.
“I think he’s probably going to fire off a long-range missile of some description,” Keane said. “If he fires off an ICBM, that’s considerably more threatening to the United States because the last one he fired off in 2017, in theory, could have reached Washington, D.C. That’s a real threat and we will have to respond to that. I believe he’s going to do something.”
Keane said that North Korea’s failure to make progress towards denuclearization was a sign that Kim Jong Un was not serious about negotiating in the first place.
“I think he’s gaming us,” Keane said. “In terms of denuclearization, which he’s agreed to, he’s provided no plans, no timetable, no inventory of the weapon systems and the U.S. changes its negotiation policy and they walked away. I think there’s a realization settling in with the Trump administration that there was always skepticism about North Korea. I think there’s much more skepticism now in terms of the rhetoric surrounding denuclearization.”
If Kim resumes testing, it proves that he’s as foolish as he is mad. He will never – ever – be presented with the kind of diplomatic opportunity this president offered him. If he ever wanted a chance to drop the nonsense and actually make a play for peace, this was it. If he squanders it to play more games, he’s even crazier than we thought.