Last weekend, when Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, and posed for cameras with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump said he was “proud to step over the line.”
His daughter, Ivanka Trump, who also reportedly crossed into North Korea, followed up by declaring that her dad was “relentlessly pursuing his commitment to make the world a safer place” with “bold thinking.”
Yet just days later, it seems the newfound kinship is off to a rocky start.
On Wednesday, North Korea’s mission to the United Nations said the U.S. is “practically more and more hell-bent on the hostile acts against the DPRK.”
So, who’s going to tell Trump?
According to Reuters, the North Korean delegation was responding to a letter sent June 29—the same day Trump shook hands with Kim at the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula—by Western allies including the United States, France, Germany, and the U.K., that urged the U.N. to comply with sanctions on North Korea.
The U.S. has accused North Korea of violating a cap on refined petroleum imports put in place to attempt to thwart North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
“The United States, backed by dozens of allies, told a council sanction committee last month that North Korea had breached an annual U.N. cap of 500,000 barrels imposed in December 2017, mainly through transfers between ships at sea,” Reuters reported.
North Korean officials responded on Wednesday by telling the U.N., “It is quite ridiculous for the United States to continue to behave obsessed with sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK, considering sanctions as a panacea for all problems.”
According to the BBC, the comments at the U.N. mark “a shift in tone and a return to the angry exchanges that have marred relations between the countries in recent times.”
As Reuters noted, the point of the letter was to urge the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee on North Korea to demand a halt to deliveries of refined petroleum to North Korea. Russia and China oppose this move. We’ll see where Trump stands, if he even pays attention to such details.
At any rate, however Trump reacts, if he does react, will be telling: He’ll either side with Russia and China, or his country’s own officials. It can’t be both.
And it would be rather amusing—if the situation weren’t so serious—that the first rhetorical shot at Trump’s quest for a Nobel Prize by negotiating a truce with North Korea came from North Korea itself. So much bold thinking!