North Korea warned this week that it was strengthening its “nuclear war deterrence.” Experts don’t know what that means, but they are worried. Given North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s promise to develop a new strategic weapon if the United States did not build a new relationship with his country, concern is justified. Japan should be especially worried, not just because it has bitter, longstanding issues with North Korea, but because this country is on the top of Pyongyang’s target list.
Kim declared last year that U.S. President Donald Trump had until the end of 2019 to make a “bold decision” to end his country’s “hostile policy” toward North Korea. Trump made historical and unprecedented gestures to Kim but the two men proved unable, even after two summits and, according to Trump, “falling in love” as a result of Kim’s “beautiful letters,” to go beyond vague promises of denuclearization.