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Trump’s Targeted Iran Killing Is Kim Jong Un’s Biggest Fear

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Bloomberg

Trump’s Targeted Iran Killing Is Kim Jong Un’s Biggest Fear

By Jon Herskovitz and Iain Marlow

If Kim Jong Un needed another reminder about the risks of bargaining away North Korea’s nuclear weapons program to the U.S., President Donald Trump’s decision to kill one of Iran’s top commanders provides one.

The killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last week reinforces the North Korean view that the U.S. only takes such actions against states that lack a credible nuclear deterrent. More specifically, Trump’s choice of attack -- a covert drone strike against a high-level target -- feeds regime fears that any U.S. offensive against Pyongyang would start at the top.

“The attack will only entrench the belief in Pyongyang that a nuclear deterrent, which Iran lacks, is essential for the physical survival of Kim Jong Un,” said Miha Hribernik, head of Asia risk analysis at Verisk Maplecroft. “Kim and other senior North Korean officials could, in theory, be targeted the same way in the future.”

The Soleimani killing came at a precarious time for Trump’s nuclear talks with North Korea, just two days after Kim announced that he was no longer bound by his pledge to halt major weapons tests and vowed “shocking” action against the U.S. While the strike may give Kim pause about how far he can push Trump in the coming months, it also reaffirms the dangers of meeting American disarmament demands.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-07/trump-s-targeted-iran-killing-is-kim-jong-un-s-biggest-fear