It's been a long time since the U.N.'s podium has been used to promote such legitimate threats as it has this week. The question is whether they’ve made the likelihood of war increase, or if this can be a positive turning point in the heated conflict between the United States and North Korea.
On Tuesday President Donald Trump threatened "total destruction" of the regime of the man he referred to as a "rocket man on a suicide mission." Then on Saturday North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho answered that an "attack on the U.S. mainland is inevitable."
It's been a long time since the parties in a major international conflict have threatened each other so directly from the dais of the United Nations.The General Assembly was more important than it has been in a long time, after Trump set the tone with his threatening language.The rest of the gathered assortment of leaders from most of the world's countries used hectic diplomacy, not least about the hottest conflict in the world right now.
Trump and Kim Jong Un have threatened each other on Twitter, in announcements, and TV speeches before.The U.N.'s lectern becomes an amplifier for the statements of the assembled leaders.Their colleagues sit in the audience, and the meeting place also provides unique opportunities to follow up statements with action.This is what Trump did in meetings with colleagues from Japan and South Korea on Thursday. And before that meeting, he announced the most stringent U.S. sanctions against North Korea so far: International banks will not get access to the U.S. financial system if they have anything to do with North Korea.
Can the Sanctions Choke Kim?
Here in the United States, analysts are speaking about Trump’s word choices and actions around North Korea this week. Although U.S. bombers flew very close to North Korea's coast yesterday, some commentators believe that the events of the last week in New York actually may have diminished the danger of armed conflict.
After American presidents for decades have failed to stop North Korea's nuclear aggression with sanctions and language, Trump now in word and deed has shown he really means business. China also understands, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The sanctions announced by the United States on Thursday will prevent North Korea from accessing the dollar, due to international banks no longer being able to conduct business in both the U.S. and North Korea.These sanctions come just after the Chinese government on Monday gave Chinese banks notice that they can no longer support North Korea with trade. Such trade is important for the funding of the nuclear program.
The Nail in the Coffin?
Trump threatened Kim's regime again with this tweet, following the country's strong statements from the U.N. podium yesterday: “Just heard the Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!”
His use of language still causes us to think about war.
Foreign Minister Ri said in his speech that sanctions from the outside world will not have any effect on North Korea's ability to develop a nuclear bomb that can strike the United States. Experts here in the U.S. have a different opinion on the matter. If both China and the U.S. can now sufficiently isolate Kim's regime, they believe a sufficient number of people in North Korea will realize that the regime governing their country cannot survive.