North Korea backed down Monday from a threat to fire missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam, according to a North Korean state media report cited by the Wall Street Journal.
Dictator Kim Jong-un had decided against the missile attack, according to the report, after making preparations to launch it. He warned that North Korea was still ready to attack Guam if the U.S. continued to make “arrogant provocations” and “unilateral demands.”
“If the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the [North] will make an important decision as it already declared,” he said.
North Korea’s decision to back down is a major victory for the United States, as it was achieved — apparently — with no concessions to the regime, and after a sustained “Twitter war” of words with President Donald Trump.
Trump was roundly criticized by politicians from both parties and by the media for his responses to North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches, and to news that the regime could miniaturize a nuclear warhead. Trump threatened “fire and fury” and declared that U.S. military plans were “locked and loaded.” His critics, including former Obama administration National Security Adviser Susan Rice, accused him of escalating the situation. Rice even suggested appeasement: “[W]e can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea.”
However, Trump’s method of one-upping Kim-Jong-un’s belligerent rhetoric seems to have worked, as Trump cast himself as even more unpredictable than the infamously impetuous tyrant. He also pressured China diplomatically to squeeze North Korea, which also worked: the Chinese suggested last week that they would not defend North Korea if it attacked the U.S., as long as the anticipated U.S. retaliation did not actually try to end the regime itself.