POTUS v Supreme Leader, “deranged US dotard” v “little rocket man”. However you’d like to refer to this showdown, the whole world has been watching on in disbelief as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un mix schoolyard insults with grave threats in their ongoing war of words.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on September 29, 2017

POTUS v Supreme Leader, “deranged US dotard” v “little rocket man”. However you’d like to refer to this showdown, the whole world has been watching on in disbelief as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un mix schoolyard insults with grave threats in their ongoing war of words. It would almost be amusing if not for the fact either man could light the proverbial wick, and start actual war with nuclear ramifications.

So how did we find ourselves in this precarious position — just one miscalculated moment of madness from World War 3, with no diplomatic solution in sight? The CEO Magazine outlines the events since New Year’s Day that have propelled the two nuclear-armed states to a level of hostility not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

New Year’s Day

In a television address, Kim Jong-un states “unless the US and its vassal forces stop nuclear threat and blackmail, and unless they stop the war exercises which they stage right at our noses under the pretext of annual exercises, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) would keep increasing the military capabilities for self-defense and preemptive striking capacity with a main emphasis on nuclear force.”

January 2

Donald Trump tweets: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!”

January 19

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, citing unidentified military sources, reports that South Korean intelligence had spotted missile parts being transported in North Korea, believed to be the lower-half of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). There’s a suggestion that Kim may be preparing a test-launch to coincide with Donald Trump’s inauguration.

January 20

Trump’s inauguration.

February 12

North Korea reports the successful launch of a new type of ICBM called the Pukguksong-2, which Kim claims is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. It is the nation’s first missile test of the year.

March 2

A day after the US and South Korea begin their annual Foal Eagle war games in South Korea — which tests the military readiness of the two countries against the threat of North Korea — a spokesperson of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) was quoted as saying, “Should the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet forces fire even a single shell into the waters where the sovereignty of our republic is exercised, the KPA will immediately launch its merciless military counter-actions… The KPA will mercilessly foil the nuclear war racket of the aggressors with its treasured nuclear sword of justice.”

The KPA will mercilessly foil the nuclear war racket of the aggressors with its treasured nuclear sword of justice.

March 6

North Korea launches four ballistic missiles that crash into the Sea of Japan. A North Korean military unit tasked with striking US bases in Japan was said to be involved in the launch. White House press secretary Sean Spicer commented, “The launches are consistent with North Korea’s long history of provocative behaviour. The United States stand with our allies in the face of this very serious threat.”

April 16

The day after North Korea flexed its muscle with a military parade to mark the Day of the Sun, Kim’s prepared launch failed when “the missile blew up almost immediately”, according to United States Pacific Command.

April 29

For the second time in a fortnight, a North Korean missile explodes shortly after take-off. Trump responded via Twitter, “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!”

May 10

Moon Jae-In is elected president of South Korea. He promises to engage North Korea in dialogue.

May 14

In what the United States considers to be a message to South Korea’s new president, North Korea fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea between North Korea’s east coast and Japan. US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said: “You first have to get into Kim Jong-un’s head – which is, he’s in a state of paranoia, he’s incredibly concerned about anything and everything around him.” She added that the US would “continue to tighten the screws” on North Korea.

May 21

North Korea launches an intermediate-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. United States Pacific Command said it had “detected and tracked” the missile and said “it did not pose a threat to North America”.

June 12

An American expert on the North Korean military, Jeffrey Lewis, is quoted as saying — “North Korea almost certainly has a compact fission warhead capable of fitting on a future ICBM.”

June 13

North Korea singles out New York as a target because of Trump’s rejection of their nuclear capabilities. A statement in its state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmum, reads: “The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is about 10,400km far away from New York. But this is just not a long distance for its strike today. “Trump blustered early this year that the DPRK’s final access to a nuclear weapon that can reach the US mainland will never happen. But the strategic weapons tests conducted by the DPRK clearly proved that the time of its ICBM test is not a long way off at all.”

June 14

A suspected North Korea-owned drone crashes in South Korea after taking 10 photos of the US anti-missile battery, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

June 19

American student Otto Warmbier, who was jailed in North Korea, passes away days after being sent back to the US in a coma. “The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim,” Trump said. Senator John McCain added — “Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime.”

July 3

Tensions soar further as North Korea launches its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-14. Donald Trump responds via his official Twitter account — “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”

July 4

Kim Jong-un refers to the ballistic missile test as an Independence Day gift for the “American bastards”. North Korea claims the ICBM is capable of carrying a “large, heavy nuclear warhead”.

August 5

The UN Security Council imposes sanctions on North Korea, prohibiting the nation from supplying, selling or transferring coal, iron, iron ore, seafood, lead and lead ore to other countries.

August 6

Claiming the US-drafted sanctions are a violation of its freedom, North Korea issues a warning that its revenge would be “thousands-fold”.

August 8

US Intelligence assess that North Korea has developed a miniaturised nuclear warhead that can fit on an ICBM, and Trump tells media: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

August 9

North Korea reacts strongly to Trump’s threat, revealing plans to pepper the waters around Guam — an island territory of the US — with missiles. The plan, which was expected to be completed in mid-August, involved four of the country’s Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles flying over the three southern Japanese prefectures of Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi before crashing into the ocean about 30 to 40 kilometres from the coast of Guam.

August 29

North Korea launches a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Hokkaido, Japan, into the Pacific. It is the first time one of its missiles has flown over another country. Residents of northern Japan were alerted by a government text at 6am local time, warning — “Missile passing”.

August 30

North Korea’s state-run media said the missile launch was “the first step of the military operation of the [North Korean military] in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam.”

August 31

Two US B-1B supersonic bombers and four F-35 stealth fighter jets joined four South Korean F-15 fighters in live-fire exercises in South Korea. The display of power was conducted on the final day of the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercise that involves tens of thousands of soldiers from the allied forces.

September 3

North Korea tests a hydrogen bomb at the Punggye-ri siteIt is the sixth and most powerful nuclear test carried out in the nation’s history.

September 12

UN Security Council imposes new sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test, restricting oil imports and banning textile exports in an effort to deprive the North of fuel and income for its weapons program.

In response to the sanctions, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Han Tae Song, told a conference in Geneva: “The forthcoming measures by DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will make the US suffer the greatest pain it has ever experienced in its history.”

September 14

The Korea Asia-Pacific peace committee, which oversees North Korea’s relations with the outside world, issued its own threat. “The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” it said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. “Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilisation of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now.”

Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness.

September 15

North Korea fires a second Hwasong-12 over Hokkaido, and proves it has a missile capable of covering the distance between Pyongyang and Guam.

September 19

In his first UN address, Trump tells world leaders that “if [the US] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea… Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

September 21

Kim then returns “fire”. “I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the US pay dearly for his speech… I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.” This came after the Trump administration had issued a new Executive Order, in which North Koreans, and those who do business with or on behalf of North Koreans, were blocked from accessing the US financial system.

September 22

After hearing Kim Jong-Un’s reaction to his speech and newly imposed sanctions, Trump tweeted — “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!”

September 23

In his UN address, Foreign Minister of North Korea, Ri Yong Ho, states that the tone of Trump’s address made “our rocket’s visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more”. He also labelled Trump “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania”. Just hours before Ri’s speech, Trump sent two bombers and four stealth fighter jets over international waters off the coast of North Korea as a show of force. Later that day, Trump tweeted, “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

September 25

In reference to said Trump tweet, Ri tells reporters in New York — “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make counter-measures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country. “The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then.”

September 27

North Korea reportedly moves fighter jets, air-to-air missiles and external fuel tanks to an airfield on the nation’s eastern coast.

More to come