When North Korea repeated its intention to plan a missile strike towards Guam on Wednesday, it was filled with conditions and chances for them to backpedal.
“Make sure you understand that this is not the final decision,” Robert Carlin, the former chief of the Northeast Asia Division at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research told reporters on a call organised by 38 North, a website that brings together experts on North Korea.
“This is a statement about a plan supposedly in process. There are firebreaks built into it. The plan is under consideration, then it’s supposed to be handed to Kim Jong Un, then he’ll make a decision,” said Carlin.
North Korea’s bold threat includes “several places they can stop or give up,” said Carlin.
But when US President Donald Trump said the US would respond to the next North Korean threat with “fire and fury unlike the world has ever seen,” he did not demonstrate similar forethought.
Instead he promised to respond to the next provocation from North Korea with what many assumed to mean nuclear force. Just a few hours later, Pyongyang obliged him, and issued a specific and disquieting threat.
Carlin, as well as other North Korea experts on the call, agreed that Kim Jong Un will most likely decide against firing the missiles, as they’re unreliable and present a large risk should they fail.
But now, Kim has publicly crossed Trump.
Whether or not North Korea follows through with its threat, which is really just an announcement of the intention to create a plan to present to Kim, it has already dealt a severe blow to the US’s credibility.
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