After President Donald Trump once again dismissed nuclear threats from North Korea on New Year's Eve, a former aide to U.S. President Bill Clinton condemned the president for allegedly allowing Kim Jong Un to play him "like a Stradivarius violin."
The North Korean supreme leader on Thursday expressed his intentions to continue developing new strategic weapons for his nuclear arsenal, according to the country's state media. Hours later, Trump responded by boasting about his relationship with Kim, saying "he likes me, I like him, we get along."
"He's representing his country, I'm representing my country, we have to do what we have to do," the president added. "I think he's a man of his word, so we're going to find out, but I think he's a man of this word."
After Trump dismissed Kim's threats of more weapons of war, Wendy Shermanwho served as Counselor of the U.S. Department of State, Special Advisor to the President and North Korea Policy Coordinator under the Clinton administrationcondemned the president's latest efforts in foreign policy.
"I think what is different here is that Kim Jong Un has played the president like a Stradivarius violin," she told MSNBC host Frances Rivera Wednesday. "He has used the time and the photo-ops to gain credibility internationally, while at the same time gaining time to continue to develop his weapons and indeed probably does have a new strategic weapon, at least on its way to reality."
Sherman, who's currently a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, then explained the two most important takeaways from Kim's remarks and the ongoing stalemate over denuclearization.
"One, Kim Jong Un is signaling that he's still open to diplomacy, though what his objectives are is to reduce the sanctions or get rid of them entirely, the president's objective is denuclearization," she said.
"Secondly, Kim Jong Un is watching what's happening in the rest of the world with China, in Iraq, with Iran and all of that says to him that the president of the United States is in a much weaker position."
Kim's announcement of potentially expanding his weapons arsenal comes less than two months after Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed the U.S. postponement of a joint military exercise with South Korea as an "act of goodwill" to help end nuclear deadlock with North Korea. Esper made the announcement alongside his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, in November, despite warnings from Japan that Kim is unlikely to reciprocate such a gesture.