Donald Trump’s tweets could tip his country into war with North Korea, diplomats inside the US State Department fear.
Rejecting the past diplomatic approaches taken with Pyongyang, the President said at the weekend that “only one thing will work!” He did not elaborate, leaving observers to fill in the blanks.
His bellicose stance has caused some diplomatic workers to fear that war might break out.
“I have this bad gut feeling that they really want conflict on this. That they are pushing hard,” a State Department worker told Vanity Fair, saying the situation was reminiscent of the run-up to war with Iraq.
“I feel like this is a similar situation, they want to do something in North Korea because it is a sort of wag-the-dog or kill-the-messenger and they are kind of trying to force-fit it,” they added.
Mr Trump’s repeated belligerence toward North Korea is in contrast with his chief diplomat’s recent statements on the issue.
During a visit to China last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US maintained “lines of communication” with Pyongyang – probably referring to back-room discussions at UN headquarters in New York.
But he was immediately shot down by Mr Trump, who told him to “save your energy” in a tweet.
On Monday, the UN banned all nations from allowing ships that carry prohibited goods to and from North Korea into their ports.
The basis for port bans was laid by a Security Council resolution in August that set out stringent sanctions on Pyongyang following the regime’s first successful intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
The resolution also banned the country from exporting coal, iron, lead and seafood products. Those goods are estimated to be worth over $1bn (£758m) - about one-third of the country’s estimated $3bn in exports in 2016.
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