North Korea's ICBMs: A Challenge to Trump Administration
14:04, Mar 15, 2017
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On the one hand, Beijing wants to see a denuclearised Korean peninsula, but, on the other, it fears the loss of a communist ally.
The mainstream view that North Korean missiles are unreliable due to their failures during flight tests is now challenged by the revelation of Obama administration cyber-attacks and other means of disrupting Pyongyang's missile tests. On March 1, the United States and South Korea began a joint military exercise that is unprecedented in scale and intensity. She approved deployment in South Korea of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system, long urged by Washington but strongly opposed by China.
Seoul has maintained the policy of a "nuclear-free Korean Peninsula" since 1991, when then-President Roh Tae-woo declared that South Korea would not "manufacture, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons".
US Acting Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton said in a press briefing on Monday that the trip would particularly focus on coordinating response to North Korea's nuclear threat. He might not be too far off the mark in regarding these missile tests as something important enough for the U.S. to agree to stop conducting military exercises, as a quid pro quo for North Korea's commitment to stop conducting missile tests.
North Korea's last nuclear test had an explosive yield of only 20-30 kilotons.
State Department acting spokesperson Mark Toner did not rule out on Tuesday that the USA secretary of state would discuss climate issues with Chinese authorities. President Obama ordered a cyber-campaign to sabotage North Korea's missile program which seems to have run its course, leaving the administration with few direct options.
The Izumo helicopter carrier, commissioned only two years ago, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and USA naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July. The White House announced that Trump discussed strategy for the tour that evening over dinner with Tillerson and National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond McMaster.
Despite this executive-branch policy vacuum, the USA government views North Korea's recent missile tests as a major threat.
A growing United States presence off the Korean Peninsula is reportedly part of a plan aimed at "incapacitating" Kim Jong Un's despotic regime in Pyongyang should conflict break out.
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Trump has suggested that Beijing could constrain Kim, but most experts on the region say it has limited sway over the regime in Pyongyang as the Chinese leadership is fearful of triggering a total collapse of its neighbour.
As the USS Carl Vinson plowed through seas off South Korea on Tuesday, rival North Koreawarned the United States of "merciless" attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during U.S.
After Tokyo, Tillerson visits South Korea, caught up in political upheaval after last week's ouster of its president, Park Geun-hye, over a corruption scandal.
"His ambiguity might be working for the interests of North Korea or China but it causes uneasiness among the public", the conservative Liberty Korea Party floor leader Chung Woo-taik said in The Korea Times. President Trump definitely wants to reduce the cost of stationing 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea - a message given to Japan as well. Missile launchers and other equipment arrived in South Korea, but the system as a whole won't be operational until April at the earliest.
The deployment drew strong domestic opposition as well as protests from China, which contends that the system's advanced radar will penetrate into its territory.
While in Japan, Tillerson is expected to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Meanwhile, relations between Japan and South Korea are quite poor.
On Friday, the aircraft carrier was traveling in the East China Sea toward the sea around South Korea to join a U.S.
The reemergence of Cold War-like security blocs in Northeast Asia would only exacerbate regional hostilities.
"I call on China to immediately stop". Historically, engagement has been the only way to rein in North Korea's behavior.
The final nail in the coffin came in 2009, when the North performed its first successful nuclear weapons test. This would exacerbate China's encirclement sense of being encircled by United States allies and weaponry.
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