Minutes after Interfax reported that U.S. and North Korean diplomats may meet in Moscow this week (which would have potentially signaled an easing of tensions), CNN is out saying that for now, Pyongyang isn’t interested.
Over the weekend and ahead of joint U.S.-South Korean military drills which begin today, KCNA called Trump a “war maniac” who is “making the situation so dangerous.” That came amid reports that Kim has been moving missiles around, apparently in preparation for another launch, which many commentators believe to be imminent.
Also over the weekend, Rex Tillerson went on CNN and said, in comments that were apparently not carefully scripted, that the U.S. would pursue a diplomatic solution right up until “the first bomb drops.”
Well according to an official who spoke to CNN on Monday, Pyongyang is sticking to their “commitment to developing a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching all the way to the East coast of the mainland US.”
Up to and until they’ve achieved that goal, Kim isn’t interested in diplomacy. “Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States,” the official said. Here’s a bit more:
The North Korean official told CNN that two additional steps are needed to achieve its goal of a reliable ICBM.
One step is an above-ground nuclear detonation, like the kind North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho threatened at the United Nations last month when he suggested leader Kim Jong Un was considering detonating “an unprecedented scale hydrogen bomb” over the Pacific after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea.
The other step is the “testing of a long-range ICBM capable of reaching Guam – and even further,” the official said.
Both steps are necessary for the DPRK to send that “clear message” to the Trump administration that it possesses an effective nuclear deterrent, the official said.
So there’s that. USDJPY is gyrating all over the place but it’s impossible to pin down the cause because Trump is speaking on tax reform and there’s Comey news on the wires as well.