North Korea’s official news agency responded Tuesday to President Trump's controversial “nuclear button tweet,” describing it as the “spasm of a lunatic,” according to the Associated Press.
“Trump’s bluff is regarded by the DPRK as just a spasm of a lunatic frightened by the might of Juche Korea and a bark of a rabid dog,” said the report, which summarized a commentary in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun. DPRK is the abbreviation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name. Juche is the North Korean state ideology, often translated as self-reliance.
“The spasm of Trump in the new year reflects the desperate mental state of a loser who failed to check the vigorous advance of the army and people of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]. . . . He is making [a] bluff only to be diagnosed as a psychopath,” it added.
North Korean media were referring to the U.S. president’s response to Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Day taunt two weeks ago that his nuclear button was always on his desk. Trump tweeted Jan. 3 that his “nuclear button” was “much bigger & more powerful” than the North Korean leader’s. He went on to threaten that the U.S. arsenal “works.”
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
Pyongyang still agreed later on to high-level talks with Seoul, which has raised hopes of an improvement of relations with South Korea.
But North Korea’s latest mocking of Trump — even though it may not be unusual — certainly won’t help to calm tensions, especially given that Trump has responded to previous North Korean provocations by referring to Kim as “rocket man,” “short and fat” and “madman.”
My colleague Julie Vitkovskaya recently summarized how the Trump-Kim rhetoric escalated in 2017. Here are some excerpts:
April 28: Approaching his 100th day in office, Trump tells Reuters a “major, major” conflict with North Korea is possible but that he still seeks diplomacy.
May 14: Kim celebrates the test of a ballistic missile. He’s quoted by state media saying, “If the U.S. awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in the history.”
May 23: The Post reports that Trump called Kim a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a phone conversation weeks before with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Trump said: Kim’s “rockets are crashing. That’s the good news,” according to a transcript obtained by The Post.
Aug. 8: Trump warns North Korea that it will be met with “fire and fury” if it continues to threaten the United States. It is his harshest language yet against the regime.
Aug. 9: North Korea responds by saying it is reviewing plans to target the U.S. territory of Guam. “The nuclear war hysteria of the U.S. authorities including Trump has reached an extremely reckless and rash phase for an actual war,” said the KCNA, North Korea’s official state media.
Sept. 17: Trump taunts Kim on Twitter: “I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”
Sept. 23: Trump tweets: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!”
Sept. 19: Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Trump threatens to “totally destroy North Korea” and says “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”
Oct. 1: Trump sends two tweets. One at 9:30 a.m. EST, saying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” and another at 2 p.m. saying he “won't fail” to rein in Kim.
Nov. 11: After reports surface that North Korean state media referred to Trump as a “lunatic old man,” Trump tweets: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!”
Trump’s Jan. 3 tweet about his “nuclear button” drew perhaps the strongest condemnations, as observers from the United States and abroad condemned the remarks as ill-advised and “infantile.”
“Trump plays with the subject so carelessly and recklessly as if it were some kind of video game,” commented Aaron David Miller, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars who has advised several secretaries of state.
In their Tuesday responses to the tweet, North Korean media also appeared to address speculation over President Trump’s mental fitness, which was raised in the controversial “Fire and Fury” book. Trump has rejected the claims made in the book and has boasted about being “like, really smart” and a “very stable genius” in response.