Despite multiple provocative missile tests over the past month – with six in just three weeks, including on Friday – there’s been little response from the White House.
Though President Trump has lately come under fire for brushing off the tests as “just short-range” and routine, a new WSJ report acknowledges “diminished returns for a provocation the Kim regime has long deployed to coax a diplomatic reaction from the U.S. and its allies.”
The Trump admin’s lack of response and “consistent tolerance” for the short-range launches amid Pyongyang’s flurry of muscle-flexing and photo ops, also certainly aimed at South Korea and Japan, has left the north without the desired leverage previously gained through such provocations.
The WSJ report seems to further admit the unusual complete lack of response out of the White House shows a position of strength out of the administration: “The shock value from the North’s military flourishes seems to be lost on President Trump, the key figure in the cash-strapped country’s campaign to shed economic sanctions,” it states.
This is in stark contrast to recent editorials and statements of defense officials claiming Trump has given Kim a “free pass”.
Both Trump and Pompeo have expressed that they don’t care about the tests so long as their not of long-range or involve nuclear tests.
After a fifth missile test a week ago on Saturday (with a sixth coming days after), President Trump touted that he’d received another “beautiful” letter from Kim, which included “a small apology for testing the short range missiles” and that Kim would like to start more talks at the conclusion of scheduled US-South Korean military exercises.
Previously Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded “No” when he was asked point blank if Pyongyang’s latest spate of short-range launches “sour the environment for talks.”