North Korea is famous for its outlandish threats of waging war and using nuclear weapons against the United States and its allies.
The constant threat of war against North Korea’s adversaries is so integral to Kim Jong Un’s regime that state media are dominated by it and national events are marked with military parades and missile tests.
But now, President Donald Trump might have turned the tables, and the North Korean regime, once hungry for the “ultimate battle,” is now starting to walk back its threats of armed conflict.
A commentary published in North Korea’s state media on Wednesday, Oct. 11, is warning that U.S. military drills might set off a war—something the communist regime has claimed for years it wanted.
“The U.S. continues to kick up the racket of frantic nuclear war drills even though the situation on the Korean peninsula is on the verge of the outbreak of a worldwide thermonuclear war,” the commentary read.
The commentary also says that if NATO would join the United States in the Korean Peninsula, it would “change the balance of forces” against it.
Earlier this week, news came out that the United Kingdom, a key U.S. ally and NATO member, has been drawing up military plans for a potential armed conflict with North Korea.
It is a rare admission of weakness by the North Korean regime that normally boasts of being a major military power that is always right—with claims that it can destroy Japan, South Korea, and major cities in the United States with nuclear weapons.
North Korean state media reports referencing the United States normally include calls for its complete destruction along with its allies. However, the new commentary does not talk about attacking the United States, but instead on building up its own defenses.
President Trump has been hitting the North Korean regime hard in recent weeks. Last month he got China to agree to new U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea. The regime admitted in a rare article published on its state media late last month that the sanctions were causing “a colossal amount of damage.”
Last week, Trump stepped up his attacks on the rogue regime, saying that negotiating with it is not effective and that “only one thing will work.” Trump’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, later said that the president was telegraphing with the statement that “military options are on the table.”
On Saturday, a U.S. nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class attack submarine arrived in South Korea. While it is not unusual for submarines to be active in the region, it is rare for their locations to be disclosed. In this case, revealing the location of the submarine, equipped with twelve vertical launch tubes for Tomahawk cruise missiles, was likely to send a message to the North.
On Monday, Trump’s Defense Secretary James Mattis said at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army that the U.S. Army should “be ready” for a potential war with North Korea.
“There’s one thing that the U.S. Army can do, and that is, you’ve got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our President can employ if needed,” Mattis said.
On Tuesday, President Trump met with his national security team and top military leaders to discuss military options against North Korea.
“The briefing and discussion focused on a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons,” the White House said in a statement on the meeting.
On the same day as Trump’s meeting with military leaders, the U.S. Air Force flew two B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force, after North Korea had threatened to shoot down U.S. bombers conducting such tests. No action by the North was observed during the 12-hour mission.