Over the weekend, Donald Trump’s latest attempt at mocking North Korea’s Kim Jong-un caused a bit of stir – the American president referred to the dictator as “Rocket Man,” which Kim Jong-un might very well like – but there was something else in that same tweet that seemed odd, even for Trump.
“Long gas lines forming in North Korea,” the Republican wrote. “Too bad!”
To be sure, Trump has access to voluminous amounts of intelligence reports, and the presidential daily briefing no doubt includes up-to-date details on developments in Pyongyang. But most North Koreans don’t have cars, and the Washington Post reported that the “long gas lines” the president referred to don’t appear to exist.
So what in the world is Trump talking about? It’s possible he received some information about economic sanctions related to North Korea and got confused. From the Post’s piece:
In its effort to punish Kim Jong Un for his continued defiance – repeated missile launches, a huge nuclear test – the United States has been leading a push to cut off oil to the isolated state. Its efforts to impose a complete oil embargo on North Korea failed, with China and Russia threatening to use their Security Council veto powers to block such a resolution.
Instead, the new sanctions measures passed last week cap North Korea’s imports of crude oil at the level they have been over the past year and limit refined petroleum imports – including gasoline, diesel and heavy fuel oil – to 2 million barrels a year.
Trump, perhaps unaware that private ownership of cars is severely limited in North Korea, probably thought the new sanctions would cause “long gas lines” in the country, and then made the leap from what he expects to be true to what he assumes must be true.
Not only is that wrong, but China will likely “continue supplying oil to North Korea if it wants to – just as a ‘livelihood exception’ for coal exports previously did.”
Whether someone from his staff told Trump there are no “long gas lines forming in North Korea” is unclear. By all accounts, White House aides are reluctant to tell the president when he has no idea what he’s talking about.