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By Miraim Raftery

January 3, 2018 (Washington D.C.) – President Donald Trump starting the New Year off with a Tweet mocking North Korean President Kim Jong Un’s power and the sizes of his nuclear button. The action came in response to Kim’s New Year’s announcement in which the North Korean strongman stated that “The whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike,” though adding that he would not attack first unless threatened, and he voiced support for talks.

Trump’s bellicose Tweet ratcheted up the rhetoric in decidedly undiplomatic wording. The President wrote, “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

He also mocked Jung Il’s offer of possible peace talks during the upcoming winter Olympics. Trump stated, “Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not—we will see!”

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, speaking to the press at the United Nations, called Jon Un’s regime “reckless” and indicated peace talks would not be taken seriously unless North Korea bans all nuclear weapons.  South Korea’s president Moon Jae-In, however, has said he sees the upcoming Olympics in Pyeongchang as an opportunity to improve relations with North Korea with a goal of de-escalation.

Recent tests and improvements in Kim Jong Un’s arsenal have led military experts to warn that his claims of being able to reach the U.S. mainland including the west coast are likely true, though accuracy of his aim remains a key question.  San Diego Congressman Duncan Hunter has supported Trump’s stance toward Korea in the past and in September the Republican representative for our region called for a first strike on the Korean regime. He stated, “I would preemptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want,”

President Trump’s remarks taunting the size of the Korean leader’s nuclear button drew condemnation from Democrats and some high level Republican advisors. 

House Intelligence Committee member Jim Himes, a Democrat, stated on CNN that everyone who has been in a “first grade playground recognizes it’s usually the person who’s most aggressively pounding their chest that is in fact the weak one on the playground.”

Eliot A. Cohen, who served as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice under Republican President George W. Bush, went further, stating that the tweet demonstrated an immaturity that is dangerous in a commander in chief. “Spoken like a petulant ten-year-old,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “But one with nuclear weapons — for real — at his disposal. How responsible people around him, or supporting him, can dismiss this or laugh it off is beyond me.”

Many have questioned whether the President is mentally fit to hold office, including CNN correspondent Brian Stelter, who further questioned whether Trump’s Tweet violated Twitter’s policy against threats of violence.  Twitter has thus far not responded to his inquiry, Stelter has indicated on CNN.

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