“North Korea’s leader was ridiculed as the “Little Rocket Man”, but after a masterstroke, he’s suddenly the one laughing.”
NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong-un has gone from ridiculed international pariah to smiling diplomat in the space of just months.
However analysts warn the West is being played and United States President Donald Trump is being manipulated into giving Kim exactly what he wants.
Just days after the historic inter-Korean summit, the first in more than a decade, questions remain around the most contentious agenda item of them all: denuclearisation.
It also puts the ball squarely in the court of Mr Trump, whose much-anticipated summit with Kim is just weeks away.
While calls grow for Mr Trump to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing Kim to the negotiating table, analysts suggest Kim is playing for time and appealing to the US President’s vanity. […]
John Blaxland, Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies and director of ANU’s Southeast Asia Institute, said it was clear Kim was playing a game by “appealing to Trump’s extraordinary vanity”.
He also said it is Kim who is largely driving the agenda.
“Most pundits agree that Kim’s determination to refine his nuclear weapons and ICBM capabilities has raised the stakes to a level not witnessed at times of earlier moments of hope, when North Korea joined with others to talk about the prospects of peace and reconciliation,” Prof Blaxland said.
“It is these raised stakes that have so captivated Trump’s attention, driving him obsessively to focus on brinkmanship on the Korean Peninsula.”
Prof Blaxland said Mr Trump’s drive and determination is undoubtedly a factor in bringing the crisis to the cusp of a groundbreaking resolution of what has seemed an interminable conflict.
“He knows Kim plays with a weak hand. Other than in terms of its nuclear weapons and massed Army, North Korea is a basket case,” he said.
“Kim also knows that Trump’s threats of ‘fire and fury’ are more plausible under his administration than has been the case for generations. So both Trump and Kim seem to be capitalising on the extraordinary confluence of events.”
However Prof Blaxland said it is Kim in the driving seat.
“Kim has driven the agenda, accelerating the weapons development programs, brushing off sanctions, stealing the limelight at the Winter Olympics, striking a yet to be fully disclosed bargain with China’s President Xi Jinping and positioning himself as the linchpin and focal point for global aspirations with his summitry,” he said.
“Mindful of the confluence of factors, big egos, grand ambitions and high stakes, South Korea’s President has joined in the euphoria to effusively talk about President Trump meriting being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This is undoubtedly a move that will endear Moon to Trump and probably goes some way to explain why Moon made the statement.
“Moon has to carefully manage what Trump might do next, mindful of his earlier wariness about American commitments abroad.”