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Can Trump Manage North Korea?

US President Donald Trump’s administration has had a rocky start; but the most pressing challenges are yet to come. Among them will be North Korea, whose leader, Kim Jong-un, recently announced that his country has built, and is prepared to test, an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

DENVER – US President Donald Trump’s administration, like many before it, has had a rocky start; but the most pressing challenges are yet to come. Among them will be North Korea, whose leader, Kim Jong-un, used his New Year’s Day address to announce that his country has built – and is prepared to test – an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Trump, who was still the president-elect at the time, sprang into action, tweeting, “It won’t happen!” One can only imagine how the North Korean government might have interpreted this statement. Trump may have been issuing a threat and establishing an official red line through his favorite means of communication; he also might merely have been making a prediction, and betting against North Korea’s technical prowess. Or maybe he just wants to keep everyone guessing about what he will do.

Whatever his motivation, Trump has now inherited the perennial North Korea problem – a recurring global crisis that has been on every US president’s list of foreign-policy concerns since the 1980s. But this time, the threat is real: during Trump’s watch, North Korea could very well obtain the means to strike the United States with a weapon of mass destruction.

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