During his speech to the United Nations on Sept. 19, President Donald Trump strongly denounced North Korea for its threats against other nations, and for causing the starvation deaths of millions of its own citizens.
He called out the leader of the North Korean communist regime, Kim Jong-Un, stating that by making nuclear threats against the United States and its allies, “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
“No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” Trump said. “It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime.”
Hillary Clinton responded to Trump’s statements during a Sept. 19 appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where she said, according to the New York Post, that diplomacy was the solution to stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.
Trump responded to Clinton on Sept. 20, stating on Twitter, “After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes.”
After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
What Trump referred to was Bill Clinton’s diplomatic Joint Framework Agreement in 1994, where the former president provided aid to North Korea in exchange for the regime ending its nuclear weapons programs.
Under the agreement, South Korea, Japan, and other nations provided two light nuclear reactors to North Korea, costing close to $4 billion, according to a 1994 report from The Heritage Foundation, in addition to other forms of aid.
Bill Clinton said at the time, “This is a good deal for the United States. North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons.”
The program failed, however. North Korea accepted the aid, but continued developing nuclear weapons all the same.
After providing North Korea with the two civilian nuclear reactors and fuel oil, U.S. spy satellites discovered what appeared to be an underground nuclear facility near Yongbyon, and Congress responded by ending the fuel supply to North Korea, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
Despite the decision from Congress, it states, Clinton “used his authority to divert $15 million from special funds in order to fulfill the U.S. commitment” to his agreement with North Korea.
Los Angeles Times reported in 1998, “Clinton has just pulled out of his pocket for North Korea,” and he “decided to spend as much as $15 million for North Korean fuel oil, beyond the $35 million already authorized by Congress this year.”
Trump’s tweet also refers to Hillary Clinton’s actions as secretary of state under Barack Obama. Politico reported in June 2016 that “As secretary of State, Clinton oversaw a hands-off approach to North Korea.”
The “strategic patience” strategy involved backing off from North Korea, while also not continuing other failed aid programs given to North Korea under former President George W. Bush. The result, according to Politico, was “The North Koreans were infuriated, and more nuclear and missile tests ensued, along with open hostilities between North and South Korea in 2010.”
It quotes Matthew Bunn, a nuclear non-proliferation expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, saying that “In my view, ‘strategic patience’ was a polite term for sitting back and watching while North Korea continued to build up its nuclear weapons program.”
Trump has taken a strong stance against North Korea and its nuclear weapons programs. This has included two recent rounds of sanctions against North Korea—passed by the United Nations Security Council in August and September—which Russia and China have agreed to support.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Sept. 19 the sanctions appear to be working, according to the Department of Defense.
Mattis said North Korea is experiencing “the increasing diplomatic isolation that comes with the economic sanctions.”