In news on that front, ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida this week, Trump said in an interview with Financial Times published Sunday that his administration "might deal with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs on its own if need be."
"China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won't. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don't it won't be good for anyone," Trump was quoted as saying, according to an edited transcript published by the newspaper.Meanwhile, a prominent North Korean defector "has told NBC News that the country's 'desperate' dictator is prepared to use nuclear weapons to strike the United States and its allies."
Asked what incentive the United States had to offer China, Trump replied: "Trade is the incentive. It is all about trade."
Asked if he would consider a "grand bargain" in which China pressured Pyongyang in return for a guarantee the United States would later remove troops from the Korean peninsula, the newspaper quoted Trump as saying: "Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you."
Thae Yong Ho is the most high profile North Korean defector in two decades, meaning he is able to give a rare insight into the secretive, authoritarian regime.Admiral James Stavridis, an NBC News analyst and dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, told NBC News that the situation is increasingly dangerous for three reasons: "One is [Kim's] own precarious situation in command of the nation. Number two is the instability in South Korea. We've just seen the South Korean president indicted, arrested, and incarcerated. And, number three, a new and more aggressive American foreign policy coming from Washington."
According to Thae, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is "desperate in maintaining his rule by relying on his [development of] nuclear weapons and ICBM." He was using an acronym for intercontinental ballistic missiles — a long range rocket that in theory would be capable of hitting the U.S.
"Once he sees that there is any kind of sign of a tank or an imminent threat from America, then he would use his nuclear weapons with ICBM," he added in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
That last reason is a very polite way of saying that Trump's belligerent provocation is making us less safe.