With Washington and Pyeongyang exchanging heated rhetoric over the past week or so, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday, telling the regime's leader Kim Jong-un in no uncertain terms that he could "lose everything",.. if he continues to be hostile toward the United States.
However, Trump also reiterated his commitment to continue diplomacy with the North Korean leader, saying Kim Jong-un is "too smart" to be rash with hostile acts.
President Trump added Kim does not want to "void his special relationship" with him, nor does he want to interfere with the U.S. presidential election in late 2020.
He went on to reiterate the tremendous economic potential North Korea has, but stressed the importance of denuclearizing the regime, just as Kim has promised.
However, observers say Kim may be pushing Trump's limit, seen by its recent messages by the U.S. president.
While Trump has continued to tout the strong personal relationship he has with Kim, some say his threat of "military force if necessary", and his latest tweets saying Kim could "lose everything", shows Trump may be increasingly irritated by the North.
In an interview with Fox News, which was aired on Sunday local time, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. military is in a high state of readiness amid North Korea's recent missile tests, but again stressed the importance of diplomacy, saying "talks are always open."
"My job is to make sure ensure that we are ready, prepared to fight and win tonight, if necessary. I believe we are in a high state of readiness right now. But my second task is to enable our diplomats. I think the talks are always open. I've said, Secretary Pompeo has said, and certainly President Trump has said, we want to sit down. We [unintelligible] want to have negotiations. We want to reach the point where we have denuclearized North Korea."
However, Esper's comments come as North Korea announced on Sunday that it conducted a "very important test" the previous day at a long-range missile site, which was partially dismantled last year.
How this news will fare with Trump and his administration may indicate the future relations between the two sides and the regime's path to denuclearization.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.