Are US-N.Korea tensions more risky this time?

Nick Mcbride
April 19, 2017

"There is both greater unpredictability and decisiveness from President Trump", said Victor Cha, the director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University and a former adviser to President George W. Bush. "Hopefully he wants peace and we want peace and that's going to be the end determination, but we're going to see what happens".

In February, the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan, in what it said was a drill for an attack on USA bases in the country.

On Russian state television, Dmitry Kiselyov, the Kremlin's top TV mouthpiece, pronounced Trump "more dangerous" than his North Korean counterpart, the latest sign of the Kremlin's about-face on the USA president.

After the lunch, Pence held a press conference with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso in which he declared "to all the people of Japan, in these challenging times, we are with you 100 percent".

The US vice president reiterated the Trump administration's promise to strike back at North Korea if provoked as it was revealed that US Navy warships were never dispatched to the Korean peninsula.

At a news conference at the United Nations on Monday, North Korea's permanent representative Ambassador Kim In-ryong, condemned the USA missile strikes in Syria, which targeted an air base after a suspected chemical attack by the government. China's Ministry of Commerce said the decision was made to comply with a UN Security Council resolution that China helped draft and pass last November.

But Trump has also shown he is willing to link trade to other issues, saying he would cut a better trade deal with China if it exerts influence on North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions.

The Trump administration has signaled a more forceful USA stance toward North Korea's recent missile tests and threats, including a warning from Trump that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has "gotta behave". The Kremlin called for all sides to "show restraint" and not take actions that could be perceived as "provocative". At the same time, dialogue for the sake of dialogue would be meaningless. Other state-TV presenters offered a ray of hope for Russians, pointing out that the radioactive fallout from a possible conflict on the Korean Peninsula likely would be carried eastward by prevailing winds, away from Russia.

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North Korea's deputy United Nations ambassador on Monday accused the USA of turning the Korean Peninsula into "the world's biggest hot spot" and creating "a unsafe situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment". "North Korea needs to realize don't give us a reason and we won't have a reason to fight".

The loss of USA participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a blow to Japan following strenuous negotiations, especially over opening its long-protected farm sector to more imports, especially of dairy and meat products. "But at every step of the way, North Korea answered our overtures with willful deception, broken promises and nuclear and missile tests".

Mr Kim ignored questions about the DPRK's relationship with China and reports that the government did not respond to requests from Chinese officials for a meeting.

There have been several cases of Chinese companies and banks working with North Korean networks to evade sanctions, Ruggiero argues, and only the threat of USA legal action with halt this. One called for "dual-track" talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and replacing the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War with a formal peace treaty.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi repeated China's line that the crisis could only be resolved by diplomacy.

People holding placards participate in a rally to oppose the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system near the Seongju Golf Course, in Seongju, South Korea, on April 8, 2017.

Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence matter, said the missile was a Scud variant that the USA calls a KN-17.

Colvin reported from Washington.

Other reports by VgToday

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