A group of Republican lawmakers has sent a formal letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, officially nominating President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize, for his “work to end the Korean War.”
The letter was signed by 18 members of Congress, including Reps. Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, as well as Reps. Steve King (R-IA), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Jim Renacci (R-OH), and Evan Jenkins (R-WV). Texas Reps. Michael C. Burgess, Pete Olson, and Brian Babin also signed the letter.
“Since taking office, President Trump has worked tirelessly to apply maximum pressure to North Korea to end its illicit weapons programs and bring peace to the region,” the letter read. “His Administration successfully united the international community, including China, to impose one of the most successful international sanctions regimes in history. The sanctions have decimated the North Korean economy and have been largely credited for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table.”
The lawmakers also cited in their letter a poorly translated phrase originally attributed to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, claiming Moon had suggested Trump be awarded the peace prize for his efforts.
“President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has consistently praised the Administration’s work, and recently said ‘President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize,'” the lawmakers wrote.
That phrase, however, was recently debunked as a mistranslation: Reuters originally attributed the information to a Blue House official (or South Korean presidential spokesperson) who addressed the media following a meeting between Moon and his senior secretaries. “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” the outlet quoted the official as saying.
The phrase has since been translated in full by NPR Korean interpreter Se Eun Gong, who confirmed its accuracy with the Blue House itself.
The true translation reveals instead that Moon was simply declining the honor of a Nobel Peace Prize himself and suggesting that the bigger prize for South Korea would be peace with its northern neighbor. “It’s President Trump who should receive the Nobel Prize,” he said. “We only need to take peace.”
The comment reportedly came in response to a letter from Lee Hui-ho, wife of the late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who wrote to Moon saying that he deserved the prize for his attempts to broker peace with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Last week, following months of tension between the two nations and ballistic missile tests by the North Korean military, Moon and Kim sat down for a landmark summit to discuss denuclearization efforts and an end to the decades-long conflict, as well as pose for a photo op. The two leaders subsequently signed a new peace agreement, the Panmunjeom Declaration, promising to reunite families, establish a “joint liaison office,” and “swiftly resolve the humanitarian issues that resulted from the division of the nation.” The two men also agreed to end all “hostile acts” against one another, with Kim claiming he would shutter the North Korean nuclear test site at Punggye-ri.
The meeting, while historic, still drew heavy skepticism from experts, who cited similar meetings in 2000 and 2007, both of which resulted in more of the same aggression and hostility that had existed prior to each summit. Kim’s claim about closing down the Punggye-ri test site was also panned as largely symbolic, as most analysts have said the site has already collapsed and is mostly unusable anyway.
Trump and his supporters have been quick to take credit for the shallow win regardless, with conservative media personalities and politicians alike boasting about the president’s part in the peace talks.
“Following this historic announcement, President Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize,” Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) said in a statement on Friday. “Our peace through strength strategy is delivering never before seen results.”
Notwithstanding the president’s personal comments, the Trump administration is taking a slightly more cautious tone on the peace talks.
“[We’re] not going to take the North Koreans at their word,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday. “We’re not naive in this process. We’ve seen some steps in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.”
Trump notably has a history of antagonizing North Korea over its nuclear efforts, nicknaming Kim “Little Rocket Man” and threatening last summer to meet any future nuclear threats with “fire and the fury like the world has never seen.” In October, the president directly contradicted then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had offered a diplomatic channel to to North Korea, tweeting, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2017
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
In January, Trump responded to rumors that North Korea was planning another missile test by tweeting that he had a nuclear button on his desk that was “much bigger & more powerful” than the one Kim claimed to have.
“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!” he wrote.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim for a separate summit in the coming weeks, to discuss nuclear disarmament and the nation’s missile program. The discussions will reportedly be held at the demilitarized zone on separating North and South Korea, CNN reported on Tuesday. According to the outlet, “skeptics worry holding the meeting at the DMZ will appear conciliatory toward Kim.”