President Donald Trump on Friday suggested only a strong commander in chief like himself could avert the possibility of atomic conflict with Kim Jong Un’s regime, saying "being weak is what gets you nuclear war."
“With respect to North Korea, remember how strong it was and they were saying, ‘This is going to be nuclear war?’” said Trump, raising his voice and waving his hands before a receptive audience at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas.
“No. You know what gets you nuclear war? Weakness gets you nuclear war. Being weak gets you nuclear war. That's what gets you nuclear war,” the president said.
In the past, Trump has employed menacing rhetoric online and across various speeches in an attempt to dissuade Kim from pursuing his nuclear ambitions.
In a September address to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump warned that "rocket man is on a suicide mission," and threatened that the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if America is forced to defend itself or its allies.
In response, Kim called Trump’s speech “unprecedented rude nonsense” for which the president will “pay dearly,” and pledged to “tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”
Trump has also referred to Kim as a "maniac" and a "madman.” But the president’s opinion of the dictator has publicly warmed in recent weeks as the prospect of a historic summit between the two leaders has become more likely.
"We're having very, very good discussions," Trump said during an April meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France at the White House. "Kim Jong Un was — he really has been very open. I think very honorable, from everything we're seeing."
Earlier Friday, Trump revealed that U.S. and North Korean officials have settled on a time and place for the president’s summit with Kim, and he appeared optimistic about the potential extraction of three American citizens imprisoned in North Korea.
“The trip is being scheduled. We now have a date. And we have a location. We'll be announcing it soon,” Trump told reporters assembled on the White House South Lawn. “We're having very substantive talks with North Korea. And a lot of things have already happened with respect to the hostages. And I think you're going to see very good things.”