In a podcast on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that diplomacy is the answer when it comes to pushing North Korea away from its nuclear ambitions. Merkel said that it could be possible to forge an international agreement with Pyongyang that would mirror the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran in 2015.
“We must now develop similar activities with an eye on North Korea,” Merkel said. North Korea’s latest missile tests, she said, should “spur us further forward with disarmament efforts.”
In her words, Merkel sounded not far from the position of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who recently said “we’re never out of diplomatic solutions” when it comes to the hostile North Korean regime.
However, President Trump has struck a different tone. His administration has made it a point to say that Obama’s era of “strategic patience” has come to an end, and it’s no secret that Trump regards the Iran deal as one of the greatest national security blunders of the 21st century.
Last month, after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, Trump said, “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!”
And if Trump felt that diplomacy had worn out its welcome last month, his view certainly didn’t change in the wake of North Korea’s latest stunning provocation.
On Sunday, Pyongyang carried out its sixth nuclear test – its first since Donald Trump took office as president. The test, which caused a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, is said to indicate a bomb at least five times more powerful than the one the regime set off last year.
“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test,” Trump tweeted shortly after the news broke. “Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”
Far from embracing a diplomatic sit-down with Kim Jong Un, Trump said the test confirmed that the time for talk was over.
“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work,” he wrote. “They only understand one thing!”
In some ways, an Iran-style nuclear agreement with North Korea would actually make more sense than the one Obama forged with Tehran. At the very least, it would not hand billions of dollars to the biggest state sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world. Still, the fact remains that we’ve been down this road before with the Un dynasty, and it only emboldened and enriched their state.
The answer, as has been the case for some time, seems to lie in the field of economic sanctions – but those will only work when and if China decides to comply with them.
If they don’t, we’re almost certainly headed for military conflict on a scale the world hasn’t seen in decades. And while it’s true that the North Korean regime will not survive such a conflict…neither will millions of people.
May God be with President Trump as he navigates these treacherous waters.