by Jesse Johnson
With the order to kill a top Iranian general last week, U.S. President Donald Trump may have rekindled Kim Jong Un’s worst fears while simultaneously cementing the North Korean leader’s belief that relinquishing his nuclear arsenal would be tantamount to suicide.
The U.S. on Friday unleashed a volley of missiles, sending Gen. Qassem Soleimani to his grave in one of the first known killings of a major military leader in a foreign country since World War II, when the American military shot down the plane carrying Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto in 1943.
Although North Korea’s initial reaction to the killing has been cautious, it was likely to have resonated in Pyongyang. The country’s state media was silent for three days before finally issuing a brief dispatch Monday on the attack that didn’t even mention Soleimani’s name.
But with Trump touting the killing as “a flawless precision strike” and vowing to “protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans, and our allies” and delivering a pledge to hit Iran “VERY FAST AND VERY HARD” if it takes retaliatory action, the attack was a message likely to resonate in Pyongyang, experts told The Japan Times.
“The North Koreans will be watching all of this unfolding very carefully,” said Andrew O’Neill, an expert on North Korea and a professor at Griffith University in Australia.