ITHACA, N.Y. — In the wake of Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un on Tuesday, Congressman Tom Reed issued a strongly worded statement that praised Trump’s actions and threatened the destruction of North Korea if the North Korean leader does not cooperate.
On Tuesday, Trump and Kim met for a historic summit in Singapore. A joint statement signed by the two leaders after the summit called for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
Reed, who represents Ithaca and New York’s 23rd district, responded in line with Trump’s positions and praised his actions Tuesday following the summit. In a press release and post on social media, Reed said he looks forward to seeing North Korea become a “free, prosperous and demilitarized state.”
“President Trump offered Kim Jong-un a different path to the world stage. A path not even thought of by our former leaders – one of economic prosperity instead of failed nuclear destruction. While there is a long way to go to achieve verified denuclearization, I look forward to seeing North Korea become a free, prosperous and demilitarized state,” Reed said in a statement.
He continued, “However, if Kim Jong-un throws away this opportunity, it will mean the military destruction of his country and his death.”
The threat of destruction and death caught the attention of commenters on Facebook. They also pointed out that previous leaders like Bill Clinton have worked toward denuclearization, saying the path was “not even thought of by our former leaders” was a stretch.
Tracy Mitrano, a Democratic candidate for the 23rd district, responded on social media Wednesday, “This kind of inflammatory comment puts the lives of our military and our allies at risk. I support diplomatic efforts that will lead to North Korea’s denuclearization and an easing of international tension. Tom Reed’s comments are unnecessarily provocative and dangerous.”
In response to the first part of the statement, Will Reinert, a spokesperson for Reed, said, “The difference in this negotiation with North Korea and the ones lead by former president’s, is that President Trump is not giving anything up until after verified denuclearization. President Bush removed sanctions, and President Clinton gave them billions of dollars’ worth of economic aid with no results.”
Reed’s strong language is also in line with previous Trump statements, who said if forced to defend itself or allies, the U.S. will have no choice but to “totally destroy North Korea.”
Obama has also made similar comments, Reinert said.
“This viewpoint is by no means original and was only meant as a threat if Kim Jong-un walks away from the table. Even President Obama has made similar statements regarding North Korea saying, ‘We will not hesitate to use our military might,’” Reinert said.
The Facebook post was also reportedly put up, then taken down and reposted again. Reed’s team did not comment on that.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated a quote from Will Reinert, who did not comment on any of Trump’s statements.
Featured image: Congressman Tom Reed addresses the crowd in Enfield at a town hall May 3. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)