World Awaits North Korea's 'Christmas Gift' to the U.S.
Last week, in what could be a reference to a new missile test, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised to give the United States a "Christmas gift."
A top North Korean official warned America about its contents. It will depend on the results of talks between the two countries.
North Korea has announced the deadline for nuclear negotiations with the U.S. It's the end of this calendar year.
A North Korean official accused the Trump Administration of not taking negotiations seriously. He said Trump is using them for political gain.
'Nothing But a Foolish Trick'
Ri Thae Song is a first vice minister at the North Korean Foreign Ministry. He says:
"The dialogue touted by the U.S. is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep (North Korea) bound to dialogue.
"And use it in favor of the political situation and election in the U.S. It is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get."
Recently negotiations have stalled. In the meantime, North Korea has continued to conduct several short-range missile tests.
Denuclearization vs. Sanctions
America's goal is to convince North Korea to abandon their nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
In exchange, U.S. and United Nations' economic sanctions against North Korea would be eased or lifted.
Kim Jong Un seems to care little about his people. But he knows that the worse conditions get for those people, the greater the chance of him being toppled.
The Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea is scheduled to meet late this month. That's to "discuss and decide on crucial issues." Including U.S.-North Korea relations.
Trump Calls Him 'Rocket Man'
The U.S. is downplaying any significance to the North Korean Christmas "threat."
Regarding the stalled talks, Trump said, "We'll see what happens. My relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good.
"But that doesn't mean he won't abide by the agreement we signed.
"(He) definitely likes sending rockets up, doesn't he? That's why I call him 'Rocket Man.'"
Will Gift Be an ICBM Launch?
North Korea seems to be increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in negotiations.
Kim Jong Un believes Trump is dragging his heels on establishing a new relationship with them.
A relationship that would include the end of sanctions. Plus diplomatic normalization and security promises.
It's theorized that the Christmas gift could be another launch of an ICBM.
Time Is Running Out
Here's the dilemma in a nutshell. The U.S. and U.N. want denuclearization from North Korea. Before economic sanctions are relieved.
North Korea wants sanctions to be eased or lifted. Before it will cooperate with denuclearization.
Neither side trusts the other to follow through. And that's why very little progress has been made in negotiations during 2019.
Kim Jong Un may decide that the only way to get America back to serious negotiations is another ICBM launch.
All this to say, the next few weeks could be crucial for the relationship between the two countries.
Horseback Photo Op
Recently, Kim Jong Un participated in a very symbolic photo shoot on Mount Paektu. Both to his people and to the U.S. and South Korea.
The North Korean leader was on horseback. As were his wife and several other regime officials.
This location is the alleged birthplace of Dangun. He's the mythical founder of the Korean kingdom about 4,000 years ago. The message was all about fighting imperialism.
Kim Jong Un said, "The imperialists and class enemies make a more frantic attempt to undermine the ideological, revolutionary and class positions of our Party."
Missile Stockpile Grows
Negotiations have not been productive lately. But the advancement of North Korea's missile system certainly has been.
"Rocket Man" now has a wide variety of missiles at his disposal. They include the Hwasong 12, which can travel an estimated 2,800 miles.
Plus the KN-14 and the KN-08, both of which can travel over 6,200 miles. And then there's the latest – the Hwasong15. It's capable of traveling more than 8,000 miles.
Nobody knows what the North Korean's "Christmas present" to the U.S. will be. But it's possible it's being wrapped as we speak.
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