President Donald Trump said that when he assumed office, he met with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, where the outgoing president revealed that the “biggest problem” was North Korea.
“I don’t want to speak for him, but I believe he would’ve gone to war with North Korea. I think he was ready to go to war. In fact, he told me he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea”, Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden at the White House.
By contrast, Trump said, during his presidency, much progress has been made on the issue since his June meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
“Where are we now? No missiles, no rockets, no nuclear testing. We’ve learned a lot. But much more importantly than all of it, much more important, much-much more important than that, is, we have a great relationship. I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un”.
Trump claims Obama told him that he was "so close to starting a big war with North Korea."— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) 15 February 2019
He then says Prime Minister Abe of Japan nominated him for the Nobel Prize, and also takes credit for "stopping the slaughter of perhaps 3 million people" in Syria. pic.twitter.com/6Pmn31eEWQ
The US president further claimed that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to open up a dialogue with North Korea.
“I think I can say this. Prime Minister Abe of Japan gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize. He said ‘I have nominated you, respectfully, on behalf of Japan. I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize’. I said, ‘Thank you’. Many other people feel that way, too”, he said.
The commander-in-chief then said that the reason behind Abe’s decision to send “the most beautiful five-page letter” to the Nobel committee was that the prime minister “had rocket ships and he had missiles flying over Japan, and they had alarms going off – you know that. Now all of the sudden they feel good, they feel safe. I did it”.
Predicting that he is unlikely to get the award, Trump brought up Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, which he was awarded for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” after spending less than 9 months at the president’s chair:
“I’ll probably never get it, but that’s OK. They gave it to Obama. He didn’t even know what he got it for. He was there for about 15 seconds and he got the Nobel Prize, and he said, ‘Oh, what did I get it for?’”
"They gave it to Obama — he didn't even know what he got it for."— Sky News (@SkyNews) 15 February 2019
President Trump says Japan's Shinzo Abe nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Follow live reactions to @realDonaldTrump's speech here: https://t.co/OPqc0fJdX5 pic.twitter.com/2bXbkGCV9D
Trump’s comments have been making the rounds on the internet, with many social media casting doubt on his Nobel Prize story:
…and ridiculed the “rocket ships” flying over Japan:
Rocket Ships…I stopped the ROCKET SHIPS!!!— Maine Man (@AllenSchmid1) 15 February 2019
Trump usually claims Japan is grateful that he stopped rockets from flying over its territory. This time he made it "rocket ships."— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) 15 February 2019
Japanese Prime Minister Abe will be surprised he nominated Trump for the Nobel Prize when rocket ships threatened Japan.— John L.T. (@JohnLT12) 15 February 2019
Some suggested that Trump was jealous of Obama’s presidency:
Apparently, jealousy turns one orange and not green.— CStar (@chibilex1) 15 February 2019
In light of Trump’s remarks, Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser under Obama, tweeted that Washington was not on the verge of war with Pyongyang in 2016:
We were not on the brink of war with North Korea in 2016. Highlighting the longstanding and widely known threat of North Korea’s nuclear program is very different from saying you’re about to start a big war.— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) 15 February 2019
His message was backed by former CIA Director John Brennan, who told NBC News that Obama was never on the brink of starting any war with North Korea, “large or small”.
Many netizens, however, rushed to POTUS’ defence, with some saying that Trump deserved the award…
World leaders respect our President for what he’s accomplished, time the media got on board— Erik Irwin (@erik_irwin6) 16 February 2019
Considering what he’s doing for Asia Pacific & the world for that matter. I would expect 100’s of nominations. POTUS ENGAGED! No more CAPITULATION. In doing so, POTUS has carved out a real trail to peace. What say you KJU & XiJ? Peace or war, tick tock.— John G Hill (@toadgulp) 16 February 2019
Trump deserves the Nobel prize. However after they erroneously gave it to Obama I no longer have any respect for the Nobel prize organization— Rob Clark (@MAGATrumpster) 15 February 2019
…while others said that they believe Trump’s story about Obama’s alleged intentions to unleash a war on North Korea:
Obama turned 3 wars into 7 during his time and actually ran out of bombs for a while the usage was so high. I can totally believe it.— JoustingJim 🇬🇧 (@JoustingJim) 16 February 2019
True story.— Woody 🕙 (@AmericanGr8ness) 16 February 2019
See Libya and Syria as examples of Obama’s wars.
"What was your Nobel peace prize for? " pic.twitter.com/q1tIKnnnrI— George Petrovic (@petrovic_george) 16 February 2019
In early 2018, two Norwegian lawmakers nominated President Trump for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reaching an agreement on North Korea’s denuclearisation. Even South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in suggested that if accomplished, his efforts would be worthy of the honour.
“I just think that President Moon was very nice when he suggested it. I want to get peace. The main thing, we want to get peace. It was a big problem, and I think it’s going to work out well”, Trump said last May when asked about his Nobel prospects.
In wake of his summit with Kim Jong-un, Trump told reporters that “everyone” thought he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, but he “would never say it” because the only reward he really longed for was “victory for the world”.
Kim Jong-un also agreed with President Trump on efforts to promote complete denuclearisation in exchange for potential sanctions relief during the June summit in Singapore. Currently, the two sides are working on a second meeting, which is expected to take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 27-28 February.