President Trump Says “Something” Will Have to Happen in Response to North Korea ICBM Test

Here is the latest on President Trump’s reaction to the recent North Korean nuclear test:

Trade Between North Korea and China Grows Despite Sanctions

This was all predictable, but President Trump is right that he had to at least try:

President Donald Trump expressed frustration with China on Wednesday for failing to do more to cut off support to North Korea and exert pressure to curb its nuclear pursuits.

North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test this week demonstrated a dangerous new reach for weapons it hopes to top with nuclear warheads one day. The launch is spurring U.S. demands for global action to counter the threat.

Since he entered the White House, Trump has talked about confronting Pyongyang and pushing China to increase pressure on the North, but neither strategy has produced fast results. Trump had expressed optimism after his first meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping that the two would work together to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

Moments before he departed for Poland, Trump chastised China on Twitter.

“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter,” the president tweeted. “So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!”

In his initial response to the launch on Monday evening, Trump urged China on Twitter to “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” But he also said it was “hard to believe” that South Korea and Japan, the two U.S. treaty allies most at risk from North Korea, would “put up with this much longer.”  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

President Trump Pushes President Moon on Paying More for US Troops

It seems like an inevitability that the ROK will end up paying more for the upkeep of the US-ROK alliance since it is an issue that President Trump continues to highlight:

President Moon Jae-in, left, shakes hand with U.S. President Donald Trump in their joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday. [YONHAP]

President Moon Jae-in faced a demand on Friday by U.S. President Donald Trump to resolve trade imbalance between the two countries and pay more of the cost for the presence of U.S. troops in Korea, while winning assurances for stronger defense measures to deter North Korea’s rapidly advancing threats.

In the joint press conference that followed the Oval Office summit, Trump said the era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed. “And frankly, that patience is over,” he added. After calling upon regional powers and all responsible nations to implement sanctions and pressure North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs, Trump said now the goal is “peace, stability and prosperity for the region.”

The United States will defend itself and its allies, Trump said, and as part of that commitment, he said he wants to ensure that the cost of U.S. military presence in South Korea is equitably shared. “Burden sharing is a very important factor,” he said. “A factor that is becoming more and more prevalent, certainly in this administration.”

Trump also spoke of a “fair and reciprocal economic relationship” with South Korea, while complaining that the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement has increased the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea by more than $11 billion.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Presidents Trump and Moon Begin US-ROK Summit at the White House

So far so good for the Trump-Moon summit in Washington, D.C.  I wonder when North Korea will commit some kind of provocation this week in response?:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, poses with U.S. President Donald Trump, second from right, in their first meeting at the White House, Washington, D.C., Thursday, along with South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook, second from left, and U.S. first lady Melania Trump. / Yonhap

President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump had “frank and serious” discussions on North Korea, a free trade deal and other issues in their first meeting over dinner at the White House, Friday, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

After the meeting, Trump wrote on Twitter that he discussed with Moon a “new trade deal,” indicating the U.S. request for a renegotiation of the countries’ bilateral free trade agreement.

Yoon Young-chan, Moon’s top press officer, refused to elaborate on this, only saying, “The leaders agreed to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and ensure economic prosperity for both nations based on their strong alliance.”

It was the first time that Trump has invited a foreign head of state and the spouse to dinner at the White House since his inauguration in January, Cheong Wa Dae said. First lady Kim Jung-sook and U.S. first lady Melania Trump were also present.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

South Korea Signs $20 Billion Deal to Import for the First Time US Shale Gas

If the ROK government wanted to get on the good side of the Trump administration this is one way of doing it:

While the Donald Trump administration continues to express concern over its goods trade deficit with Korea, Seoul will officially import U.S. shale gas for the first time starting next month.

According to Korea Gas Corporation (Kogas) on Monday, it will import 2.8 million tons of shale gas annually, which is worth about $1 billion, for 20 years.

Kogas said it held the reception ceremony for importing U.S. liquefied natural gas with Cheniere Energy at Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana on Sunday, local time.

The Korean government announced earlier this year that it will diversify the sources of its imports of crude oil to include shale gas from the United States to reduce Korea’s trade surplus with America in the hopes of avoiding being labeled a currency manipulator by the Trump administration.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Reality Winner Accused of Leaking Top Secret NSA Documents to the Media

When I first read this article I was wondering if it was a Duffel Blog entry, but the person who leaked Top Secret information really is named Reality Winner:

Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner.

The alleged leaker accused of feeding a classified report to an online news site has a colorful history on social media that lays bare her political leanings as an environmentalist who wanted to “resist” President Trump.

Reality Winner, 25, is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation assigned to a federal facility in Georgia, where she allegedly leaked a classified intelligence report containing “Top Secret Level” information. The report, according to the Department of Justice, contained classified defense information from an intelligence community agency.

While the DOJ did not say which site published the information, the charges were announced just as The Intercept published details of a National Security Agency report on Russian hacking efforts during the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Justice Department, Winner admitted to printing a classified intelligence document despite not having a “need to know,” and with knowledge the report was classified. Winner further admitted removing the report from her office space and mailing it to the news outlet, according to the criminal complaint.  [Fox News]

You can read more at the link, but it appears she was motivated by politics because of her anti-Trump Facebook postings.  What is clear though is that she needs to receive the maximum sentence possible for leaking Top Secret information to the media because this leak is absolutely ridiculous.

What makes this even more pathetic is that this information was already known to the media.  CNN reported back in October 2016 that federal officials told them that Russia may have compromised the personal information of Florida, Illinois, and Arizona voters.  This leaked document is just the source for the information that federal officials already briefed the media.  So Reality Winner has likely thrown her life away for providing information the media already knows and did not change one vote during last year’s election.

Is the Blue House Trying to Mobilize Korean Public Opinion to Cancel THAAD Deployment?

That is what opposition parties in Korea are supposedly claiming:

Since the Blue House’ probe of the incident, the Thaad deployment may have to stop for a while. The four additional launchers cannot be activated anytime soon. Public criticism of the deployment is spreading. While opposition parties believe the presidential office is attempting to sway public opinion to support a cancellation of the deployment, the Pentagon insists the deployment procedure was transparent. Our internal friction could also damage a summit in June in Washington between Moon and U.S. President Donald Trump.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but in my opinion the Blue House is looking for reasons to put the Defense Ministry on the defensive and possibly clean house.  This allows the Blue House to appease their left wing base that is against the THAAD deployment without actually cancelling it.  I would be very surprised if President Moon tries to cancel the THAAD deployment considering the ramifications to the US-ROK alliance.

Plus I think President Moon being the experienced politician he is wants negative public opinion against the deployment which he can use for upcoming cost sharing talks between the US and the ROK.  President Moon can basically counter President Trump’s demand for the ROK to pay for THAAD by saying the majority of the ROK population does not want THAAD so why should they pay for it?  This allows the ROK to get the defense benefits of THAAD without having to pay for it.

President Trump Mentions FTA Renegotiation and North Korea Cooperation In First Phone Call with President Moon

This phone call would have likely been much more interesting if President Trump would have repeated his demand for Seoul to pay for the deployment of the THAAD system to Korea:

U.S. President Donald Trump raised the topic of renegotiating a free trade deal with South Korea first before mentioning cooperation on the North Korean nuclear front in a recent phone conversation with Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s new president, an informed official here said Saturday.

“President Trump, during the phone conversation, first delivered congratulatory remarks, then said the FTA should be renegotiated for the mutual interest of both countries,” an official at Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea’s presidential office, told Yonhap News Agency Saturday.

Moon and Trump spoke over the phone on Wednesday, vowing to maintain close cooperation in handling North Korea’s nuclear threats.

The official, who was next to Moon as he spoke with Trump, also said the U.S. president mentioned the trade issue “in a light fashion, mentioning it on a principle level” and added that the “focus was on the North Korean nuclear issue.”

Moon reportedly did not offer a particular reply to Trump’s mentioning of renegotiating the trade deal.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.