In his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Donald Trump stressed the need for maximum pressure on North Korea and his determination to revise the free trade agreement with South Korea.
He said he was building a safe, strong and proud America and emphasized national unity while laying out his vision on immigration reform, border control, North Korea and the renegotiation of trade deals.
Trump said North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten the U.S. homeland and the U.S. is waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent the North Korean missile threat.
He said that past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocations, and vowed not to repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got the U.S. into this very dangerous position.
Speaking on trade protectionism, Trump said that trade relationships will be fair and reciprocal from now on, and the U.S. will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.
Trump's speech was toned down for the most part, with no remarks hinting at the possible use of military force against North Korea. However, the president didn’t express any expectation for dialogue with the North either.
He also said that no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the North’s cruel dictatorship.
Trump then went on to introduce North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, who was in the audience, as a witness to the “ominous nature” of the regime.
At the moment, the two Koreas are holding talks and events related to Pyongyang's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
South Korea is working to seize this opportunity to create momentum for dialogue in the North’s nuclear issue. Joint military drills with the U.S. have also been postponed to after the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
But Trump’s negative stance on holding talks with North Korea also showed in the State of the Union speech. He did not mention military options but there is speculation preparations are under way behind closed doors.
Also Victor Cha, a hardliner on North Korea issues, has been dropped from consideration as ambassador to Seoul over policy differences with the Trump administration.
Some observers say the nuclear crisis will worsen again after the Olympics. All this implies there’s not much time to pursue peace.