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North Korea

Trump orders ‘new approach with military option’ to resolve North Korea nuclear crisis

Denuclearised Korean peninsula will be ‘only appropriate and acceptable solution’ to crisis, US National Security Adviser says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 9:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 8:47am

US President Donald Trump has ordered his national security team to develop a new approach to defuse North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons threat with a military option on the table to finally denuclearise the Korean Peninsula as “the only appropriate and acceptable” solution, Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster said on Wednesday.

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“The threat is much more immediate now. We can’t repeat the same failed approach of the past [administrations],” McMaster said at a conference in Washington. “The President has directed us to not do that and to prepare a range of options, including a military option, which nobody wants to take.”

The remarks by McMaster came as South Korean President Moon Jae-in made his first trip since becoming his nation’s leader to the United States, where he is expected to present a united stand with Trump over North Korea.

McMaster also confirmed at the conference that US military options for North Korea had been updated and were ready to be presented to Trump should Pyongyang conduct an underground nuclear or ballistic missile test that indicates the regime has made a significant progress towards developing a weapon that could attack the US.

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His comments came at a time when the US and China failed to announce joint action to freeze Pyongyang’s nuclear programme during their first Diplomacy and Security Dialogue last Wednesday in Washington.

McMaster said the new approach had made progress with a “candid recognition that China does have a great deal of control” over the North Korean regime by using its economic support as a leverage, indicating that the US gradually pressed China to change certain positions and to do more to curb the Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Chinese largest energy company, China National Petroleum Corp, has already suspended sales of fuel to North Korea, cutting critical supplies of energy that may force the reclusive nation to find alternatives to its main supplier of diesel and petrol, Reuters reported on Monday, although it is unclear how long the suspension will last.

McMaster added that “the North Korea problem is not a problem between North Korea and the United States. It’s a problem between North Korea and China – and the world,” contrasting with China’s long time position that Beijing was a mediator and party to UN sanctions while the North Korea issue was between Pyongyang and Washington.

McMaster said “President [Trump] has made clear to us that he will not accept a nuclear power in North Korea and a threat that can target the United States and the American population”, and “denuclearisation of the peninsula is the only appropriate and acceptable” solution.

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McMaster’s remarks appeared to be in line with the recent trend of Trump and his top officials to dial up the pressure on North Korea and its Communist ally China.

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis also warned last month the threat from North Korea’s accelerated nuclear weapons programme was “clear and present”, but urged caution on resorting to a military strike against Pyongyang.

Zhang Tuosheng, director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said the US was losing its patience with Pyongyang, but added that military option would be the last resort.

“Currently, the US still counts on China and sanctions to rein in Pyongyang,” he said. “Now is a very pressing time for everyone. If Pyongyang has the capability to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles, the situation could go from bad to worse.”

Additional reporting by Kristin Huang