Just as it appeared that long inflamed tensions on the Korean Peninsula were beginning to wane, President Donald Trump further demonstrated his willingness to drag the world to the brink of nuclear war Tuesday night with a tweet boasting of the size and power of America's (nonexistent) "nuclear button."
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
Trump's tweet came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in a speech that he "always" has a nuclear button on his desk, but that he would only use it if threatened.
Kim also indicated that he would be willing to engage in direct talks with South Korea, an overture that was welcomed by the South as a step toward peace and stability. Early Wednesday, North and South Korea reopened a communication "hotline" that had been closed since February of 2016, another sign of "easing tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul," the Wall Street Journal reports.
"These casual threats made on Twitter are a huge distraction from the serious diplomatic work that needs to be done."
—Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
But with a single tweet, Trump threw the potential of serious negotiations into chaos—a move critics characterized as further evidence of his lack of fitness for office.
"This Tweet alone is grounds for removal from office under the 25th Amendment," argued Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer and current vice chairman of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington. "This man should not have nukes."
In addition to further calls for legislative solutions that would strip Trump of the power to launch a nuclear first strike, anti-war groups demanded a global intervention to both fill the leadership vacuum left by the U.S. president and slow the march toward a nuclear crisis.
"A war with North Korea could kill millions in a matter of days and would very likely do nothing but lead to the further proliferation of nuclear weapons," Win Without War wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. "If the president won't pursue diplomacy, we should all demand a global diplomatic intervention to stop a pointless war."
The U.K.-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) also weighed in Wednesday morning, urging that Trump's "childish games must stop."
"It's incredible that it even needs to be said, but nuclear war is no laughing matter," CND concluded. "These casual threats made on Twitter are a huge distraction from the serious diplomatic work that needs to be done."