24 April 2019
North Korean soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the nation's foundation in Pyongyang on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
North Korean soldiers march during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the nation's foundation in Pyongyang on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Trump spooked Pentagon with draft tweet on North Korea: Woodward

US President Donald Trump spooked the Pentagon leadership with a tweet that, had it been sent, North Korea would have read as a sign of an imminent US attack, journalist Bob Woodward said in an interview that aired on Sunday, Agence France-Presse reports.

Woodward, whose new book Fear: Trump in the White House hits bookstores on Tuesday, described the incident in the interview with CBS as the most dangerous moment of Trump’s nuclear standoff with North Korea, the news agency said.

“He drafts a tweet saying ‘We are going to pull our dependents from South Korea – family members of the 28,000 people there,’” Woodward said on CBS Sunday Morning, referring to families of US troops stationed on the Korean peninsula.

The tweet never was sent because of a back-channel message from the North Koreans that they would view it as a sign the US was preparing to attack, according to CBS.

“At that moment there was a sense of profound alarm in the Pentagon leadership that, ‘My God, one tweet and we have reliable information that the North Koreans are going to read this as ‘an attack is imminent,’” AFP quoted Woodward as saying in the interview.

US tensions with North Korea have subsided since Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

In Pyongyang, North Korea staged a military parade on Sunday with no display of long-range missiles, focusing instead on conventional arms, peace and economic development as it marked the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding, Reuters reported.

The reduced display compared to past years earned a thank you note from Trump, who hailed it as a “big and very positive statement from North Korea”.

Trump on Twitter quoted a Fox News description of the event without long-range nuclear missiles as a sign of North Korea’s “commitment to denuclearize”.

“Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office,” Trump tweeted.

During the parade, line upon line of goose-stepping soldiers and columns of tanks shook the ground before giving way to chanting crowds waving flags and flowers as they passed a review stand where the North Korean leader sat with a special envoy from China, as well as other visiting foreigners.

Kim told the envoy, Chinese parliament chief Li Zhanshu, that North Korea was focusing on economic development and hopes to learn from China’s experience in this regard, Chinese state television reported.

“North Korea upholds the consensus of the Singapore meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the United States and has taken steps for it and hopes the United States takes corresponding steps, to jointly promote the political resolution process for the peninsula issue,” the report paraphrased Kim as saying.

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