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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, January 03, 2018 1:00 am

Trump trades 'button' barbs

Amid talks of a meeting, mocks Kim on Twitter

MATTHEW PENNINGTON | Associated Press

WASHINGTON  – President Donald Trump sounded open Tuesday to the possibility of an inter-Korean dialogue after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare overture toward South Korea in a New Year's address. But Trump's ambassador to the United Nations insisted talks would not be meaningful unless the North was getting rid of its nuclear weapons, and Trump later boasted that his “nuclear button” is bigger and more powerful than Kim's.

In a morning tweet, Trump said the U.S.-led campaign of sanctions and other pressure were beginning to have a “big impact” on North Korea. He referred to the recent, dramatic escape of at least two North Korean soldiers across the heavily militarized border into South Korea. He also alluded to Kim's comments Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics, which will be hosted by South Korea next month.

“Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!” Trump said, using his derisive moniker for the young North Korean leader.

In response to Kim's overture, South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks on Jan. 9 at the shared border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties.

“We won't take any of the talks seriously if they don't do something to ban all nuclear weapons in North Korea,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters at the United Nations. “We consider this to be a very reckless regime. We don't think we need a Band-Aid, and we don't think we need to smile and take a picture.”

In his New Year's address, Kim repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States.

He said he has a “nuclear button” on his office desk and warned that “the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

Trump on Tuesday mocked the button assertion.

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Trump wrote.

Trump doesn't actually have a physical nuclear button.

The process for launching a nuclear strike is secret and complex, and involves the use of a nuclear “football,” which is carried by a rotating group of military officers everywhere the president goes and is equipped with communication tools and a book with prepared war plans.