1999 flashback may give insight into Trump’s strategy on North Korea


President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that if North Korea continues to threaten the U.S. they “will be met with fire and fury,” but in 1999 Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would be “negotiating like crazy” with Pyongyang.

Trump told then-host Tim Russert:

“First I’d negotiate. I would negotiate like crazy, and I’d make sure we try to get the best deal possible… If a man walks up and puts a gun to your head and says ‘give me your money,’ wouldn’t you rather know where he is coming from before he had the gun in his hand? These people, in three or four years are going to be having nuclear weapons, they’re going to have those weapons pointed all over the world, specifically at the United States.”

We have a country out there, North Korea, which is sort of wacko, which is not a bunch of dummies, and they are going out, and they are developing nuclear weapons. And they’re not doing it because they’re having fun doing it, they’re doing it for a reason. And wouldn’t it be good to sit down and really negotiate something, ideally negotiate. Now if that negotiation doesn’t work, you’d better solve the problem now than solve it later. You know it, and every politician knows it, and nobody wants to talk about it.”

The clip has left pundits wondering if Trump’s recent comments are part of a broader negotiation strategy or if he’s ready to use military force against the totalitarian regime.

North Korea said this week it is “carefully examining” a plan to strike the U.S. territory of Guam.

Guam is home to both Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam, where thousands of U.S. troops are stationed.

That report comes on the heels of the regime reportedly creating a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, a major step in its pursuit of becoming a nuclear power.

U.S. officials have concluded that Pyongyang is exceeding predictions with respect to building an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said from the clubhouse at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J.

The Defense Intelligence Agency completed the latest analysis on the miniature warhead in July.

“Today is the day that we can definitely say North Korea is a nuclear power,” Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, told USA TODAY on Tuesday. “There is no more time to stick our heads in the sand and think we have months or years to confront this challenge.”

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