While pundits in the United States have slammed President Donald Trump's tweets about having a bigger nuclear button than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as childlike like and unbefitting of a statesman, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that the tweets are legitimate national security measures that keep Kim "on his toes"
Following Kim's groundbreaking New Year's speech pledge that hinted at the completion of nuclear tests and warned he had a nuclear button on his desk, Trump responded that his nuclear button "is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
The comment drew immediate criticism and widespread mockery across the globe.
Russian senator Frants Klintsevich, the chairman of Russia's State Duma defense and security committee, expressed bemusement at the “inappropriate” tweet, according to Russia's TASS news agency.
“My opinion is that it's not worthwhile for the U.S. as a great power to compete with (Pyongyang) in sizes of nuclear buttons and besides, that is not the argument that can convince (North Korean) leader Kim Jong Un,” he said. “We are all waiting when the Americans lay much more powerful cards on the table — common sense and responsibility.”
Trump has longed heaped mockery on Kim, disparaging the idea that talks can be held with the North Korean Leader. Kim, in turn, has refused to back down from the U.S. leader, calling him a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”
In Washington, a range of beltway figures including former Vice President Joe Biden said the ill-tempered tweets caused allies to lose confidence in Washington.
Despite critics such as Biden blasting Trump's habit of addressing important issues through Twitter as unbecoming for a leader, Trump has defended the practice as “not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL.” The U.S. leader also has said he is considered the “Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters,” adding that if one of his detractors says something bad about him, “bing bing bing — I say something really bad about them.”
Asked on the ABC program “This Week” whether the president’s tweet was a good idea, Haley said: “I think that (Trump) always has to keep Kim on his toes. It’s very important that we don’t ever let him get so arrogant that he doesn’t realize the reality of what would happen if he started a nuclear war.”
Haley said North Korea should be clear that the United States will not reduce pressure on Kim.
“We’re not going to let them go and dramatize the fact that they have a button right on their desk and they can destroy America,” she said. “We want to always remind them we can destroy you too, so be very cautious and careful with your words and what you do.”
The comments come as Haley, an Indian-American daughter of immigrants from Punjab and former governor of South Carolina, continues to enjoy far more prominence as a spokesperson for U.S. foreign policy than her superior, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has frequently been contradicted by Trump and Haley.
In the explosive new book named after the now-infamous threats Trump issued against North Korea, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," Haley is depicted as uniquely close to Trump, with the former real estate tycoon “ “spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future.”
The book also made clear that the hawkish diplomat has outsized ambitions to eventually assume the office of the presidency.
“By October, however, many on the president’s staff took particular notice of one of the few remaining Trump opportunists: Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador. Haley—'as ambitious as Lucifer,' in the characterization of one member of the senior staff—had concluded that Trump’s tenure would last, at best, a single term, and that she, with requisite submission, could be his heir apparent.”