Thu, October 19, 2017 | 17:56
Posted : 2017-09-20 16:05
Updated : 2017-09-21 15:09

Trump's speech no prelude to military action

Pyongyang unlikely to heed warning from US president

By Kim Jae-kyoung

U.S. President Donald Trump's latest threat to "totally destroy" North Korea does not necessarily mean the U.S. will take any immediate military action against the Kim Jong-un regime, analysts said Wednesday.

At the United Nations General Assembly hall, Tuesday (local time), Trump said the United States has "great strength and patience," but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, it will "totally destroy" North Korea.

Calling the North Korean leader "Rocket Man," Trump said Kim is "on a suicide mission" for himself and for his regime.

His remarks rattled foreign leaders gathered for the General Assembly. Political analysts and North Korea experts have shown divergent views on his speech, but many agree Trump just repeated his fiery rhetoric against Kim, who he earlier nicknamed "Rocket Man" on Twitter.

Balbina Hwang, a visiting professor at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies, said: "I do not think this speech is a prelude to a U.S. strike or war with NK."

Hwang served as a special adviser on East Asian affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

It was Trump's sternest warning yet to the North, and came after Pyongyang's sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Sept. 3.

Trump also called on member states to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it stops its "hostile" actions.

However, analysts said Pyongyang will defy Trump's warning with more missile launches and nuclear tests.

"Threats to destroy North Korea do not provide assurance. Rather, this bellicose and unnecessarily provocative language just invites North Korea to retaliate with threats of its own," said Kelsey Davenport, the director of Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association.

"What the international community needs to hear from the U.S. is a strategy that balances pressure with a path forward to engage Pyongyang in talks over its nuclear program."

Tara O, an adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS, also said Kim will not heed Trump's threat to denuclearize.

"Kim wants to use the nuclear weapons to threaten the U.S. to sever the alliance (with South Korea), and ultimately unify the Korean Peninsula under its rule by threatening South Korea, without worrying about the American military might and resolve."

Analysts said Trump's speech indicates the U.S. will continue its push for sanctions and pressure on the North, dimming chances for dialogue with the North in the near future.

Hwang said Trump's unequivocal position on the North puts South Korean President Moon Jae-in "on notice" regarding any potential wavering Moon might have on his current hard-line rhetoric and stance toward Pyongyang.

"In other words, Moon will find it very difficult to implement any engagement with the North unilaterally, unless Pyongyang's attitude or actions show significant signs of change," she said. "But importantly, despite Trump's clear and strident warning, I do not think it precludes the possibility of the U.S. pursuing other options short of military action on the North, for example, political or diplomatic engagement."

Davenport said Trump's unequivocal warning aims to prevent a miscalculation by Kim.

"Vague threats are not going to change North Korea's behavior and they also increase the risk of conflict by increasing the chances of North Korea miscalculating," she said.

Not doing enough

Analysts also said Trump's bombastic rhetoric is aimed at North Korea, but also at the U.N. and its members.

"I think Trump's message primarily was to Kim Jong-un, but also to those countries that are not doing enough to implement U.N. Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea," said Joseph DeTrani, a former U.S. special envoy to the six-party talks.

"The language Trump used conveyed his frustration with North Korea that's launching missiles and conducting nuclear tests that threaten the region and the entire international community. The leadership in Pyongyang should understand this message from Trump."

Hwang said it's important to put Trump's specific statements within the entire context of his speech.

"The main purpose of the speech was not North Korea. Trump specifically ‘targeted' a number of other ‘rogue' states, including Iran and Venezuela, although certainly he used the starkest and strongest words against the North," she said.

"But the main ‘target' of his message was actually the U.N. itself, and a challenge to the U.N. to reform and better fulfill its mission and, perhaps most importantly, to establish unequivocally what the U.S. now considers the most important principle in international affairs: sovereignty."

O said Trump's speech sent a clear and consistent message.

"When Trump said if the U.S. has to defend itself and its allies, then the ‘rocket man is in a suicide mission for himself and his regime,' it is a warning against Kim Jong-un to not put the U.S. in that situation," she said.

"U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis had made it clear that such a case would be if North Korea threatens Guam or other U.S. territory or allies. North Korea realizes the only acceptable future is denuclearization."

관련 한글 기사

北 리용호, 트럼프 '완전파괴' 발언에 "개짖는 소리"

北 리용호, 트럼프 '완전파괴' 발언에 '개짖는 소리'

'개들이 짖어도 행렬은 간다…트럼프 보좌진들이 불쌍하다'

리용호 북한 외무상이 제72차 유엔총회 기조연설을 위해 20일(현지시간) 미국에 입국했다.

리 외무상은 이날 오후 베이징(北京)발 중국항공편으로 유엔본부가 있는 뉴욕의 존 F. 케네디(JFK) 공항에 도착했다. 앞서 리 외무상은 지난 19일 고려항공편으로 중간 경유지인 베이징에 도착해 주중 북한대사관에서 하룻밤을 지낸 것으로 알려졌다.

리 외무상은 자성남 유엔주재 북한 대사의 안내를 받으며 입국장이 아닌 출국장으로 들어왔다. 유엔주재 북한대표부는 JFK공항 측에 별도의 경호를 요청하는 등 취재진에 민감한 반응을 보였다.

리 외무상은 공항에서 기다리던 취재진의 질문에는 일절 대답하지 않았다.

기자들이 '북한을 완전파괴할 수 있다는 도널드 트럼프 미 대통령의 기조연설 발언을 어떻게 생각하느냐', '유엔총회 연설에서 어떤 메시지를 전달할 계획이냐' 등을 질문했지만 답변을 피했다.

그러나 숙소인 맨해튼의 한 호텔에 도착해선 트럼프 대통령을 정면으로 비판한 것으로 알려졌다.

리 외무상은 '개들이 짖어도 행렬은 간다는 말이 있다'는 북한 속담을 인용하면서 '개 짖는 소리로 우리를 놀라게 하려 생각했다면 그야말로 개꿈'이라고 말했다.

그는 '로켓맨 발언에 대해 어떻게 생각하느냐'는 질문에 '트럼프 대통령의 보좌관들이 불쌍하다'고 했다.

리 외무상의 기조연설은 오는 22일로 예정돼 있다.

북한 외무상은 지난 2014년부터 매년 기조연설을 해왔다. 2014년과 2015년에는 전임자인 리수용 현 노동당 국제담당 부위원장이 했고, 지난해에는 리용호 외무상이 기조연설을 맡았다.

통상 북한 측 기조연설은 자국의 핵·미사일 프로그램을 옹호하고 미국을 비판하는 데 초점이 맞춰졌다. 이번에도 유엔 안전보장이사회의 대북(對北) 제재 결의안 채택을 비판하면서 핵무장 능력을 과시하는 내용을 되풀이할 것으로 관측된다. 트럼프 대통령의 유엔총회 기조연설에 대해서도 강한 어조로 반박할 것으로 예상된다.

리 외무상은 기조연설에 이어 23일에는 안토니우 구테흐스 유엔 사무총장과 면담할 것으로 알려졌다.

그러나 리 외무상은 뉴욕 체류 기간, 공개적인 외부일정보다는 제3세계 국가들과 비공개 접촉하는 데 주력할 것으로 보인다. 개발도상국 연합체 '77그룹(G77) 연례장관회의'의 22일 개회식에도 참석할 가능성이 있는 것으로 전해졌다.

리 외무상의 뉴욕 방문을 계기로 북·미 접촉이 이뤄질지도 관심사이나 양국 간 대립상황을 고려할 때 그 가능성이 높지는 않다는 관측이 우세하다.

리 외무상은 다음 주 초 출국할 것으로 알려졌다.(연합)