My nuclear button is bigger, more powerful and it works: Trump to Kim Jong Un
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My nuclear button is bigger, more powerful and it works: Trump to Kim Jong Un

Trump’s tweet marked the latest round in an exchange of insults and taunts by the two leaders against the backdrop of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

world Updated: Jan 03, 2018 21:34 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Trump,Kim Jong Un,North Korea
A combination photo shows a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) handout of Kim Jong Un released on May 10, 2016, and Donald Trump posing for a photo in New York City on May 17, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA handout via Reuters/Files

US president Donald Trump has ratcheted up the rhetoric with North Korea threatening a nuclear exchange, saying in a tweet he has a “nuclear button” too and it’s “much bigger & more powerful” than Kim Jong Un’s.

Trump tweeted: “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!”

Trump was responding to a New Year day address by the North Korean leader in which he said: “It’s not a mere threat but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office...All of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal of an estimated 60 warheads is no match for 6,800 of the United States, but Pyongyang has the capability to deliver its missiles to the American mainland now, and that should be a sobering thought.

But not to President Trump, who has matched the North Korean leader’s rhetoric, insult for insult, and boast for boast. Trump has called Kim “Rocket Man” and “short and fat”, and threatened to “totally destroy” the Asian country.

But earlier on Tuesday, Trump had seemed less angry in a tweet taking credit for US actions to bring North Korea around to consider talks. “Sanctions and ‘other’ pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea,” Trump wrote. “Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!”

In his address, the north Korean leader had expressed willingness to engage South Korea, and send a team to the Winter Olympics being hosted by South Korea. “North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the games will be a success,” Kim said.

Just hours after his earlier tweet, the US president was taunting the North Korean leader, boasting about the size of his nuclear button and winning in an exchange. The reason for the change in tone and tenor was not immediately clear, but the tweet set off a storm of sorts with commentators, TV pundits and late-night show hosts.

“Please don’t make me picture your Button,” Stephen Colbert, a late-night show host and strident critic of the president tweeted. “…also don’t start a nuclear war …”

As a matter of fact, the US president doesn’t really have a nuclear button on his desk. As was pointed in a report by Associated Press, the launch process starts with a small briefcase that is carried along by military officers accompanying the president, called the “football”, which contains communication tools and a book with war plans.

Read | ‘Rocket man’ versus ‘dotard’: Will Kim Jong Un win war of words against Trump?

The president initiates the process with a call to Pentagon. He identifies himself with certain codes, the report said, which are then fed into a card that he carries, called the “biscuit”. Once the protocol is established, the president can communicate the launch instructions to the Pentagon and Strategic Command.

But in the tweet, the president meant the size of the US arsenal. And, size matters to the president, as some commentators remarked, referencing his presidential campaign dust-up with Senator Marco Rubio. They had exchanged insults about the size of their hands, after Trump had taken to calling the Florida senator “Little Marco”.

First Published: Jan 03, 2018 09:03 IST