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Update on North Korea: Trump's Response Plans

Update on North Korea: Trump's Response Plans

As North Korea’s reckless nuclear weapon poses a “urgent national security threat,” the Trump Administration met with lawmakers Wednesday to discuss how to handle the issue.

It looks as though President Donald Trump is trying to diminish the rumblings that the U.S. is preparing to take military action against the unruly country.

In a classified briefing with Republican and Democratic senators, secretary of state, defense secretary, top general and national intelligence director, the president said the U.S. plans to tighten economic sanctions against the country and deploy a missile defense system in South Korea.

“The president’s approach aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners,” said Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State; Jim Mattis, Defense Secretary; and Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence in a joint statement.  

North Korea’s recent missile tests, although they have been unsuccessful, influenced Trump to show force by ordering U.S. military vessels and aircraft carrier to move closer to the country.  

Adm. Harry Harris Jr., America’s Pacific forces commander, assured Congress that U.S. forces at the South Korean base will be protected in an event that a missile does fire from North Korea. 

Harris said that the Thaad system would be “operational in the coming days to be able to better defend South Korea against the growing North Korea threat” 

“If it flies, it will die,” said Harris if a missile was to hit the base.

Although it looks like Trump is trying to avoid military action and is taking a more defensive approach, a military strike is still on the table.

Trump has said the U.S. will address the problem with North Korea without or without China, but China does have the power to apply pressure to get the country to be more cooperative.  

“China is the key to this,” said Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.  

“I think the best approach for the administration is to bring the maximum pressure to bear diplomatically on China, as well as North Korea, but otherwise to walk softly and carry a big stick,” said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California on Wednesday.   

However, China sees the new U.S. missile defense system in South Korea as threatening. Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a statement condemning North Korea’s nuclear program, but also said that “on the other side, the large-scale military maneuvers in Korean waters should be halted.”

Fortunately, there has been some effort on China’s part to penalize North Korea.

“The Associated Press reported Thursday that gasoline shortages in North Korea have become severe in recent days, with restrictions on sales being imposed without any explanation by the government. There is no clear evidence to show the acute shortage is the result of a reduction in petroleum imports from China, but some experts think that is the case,” writes CBS News. “There have also been reports of dramatic reductions in coal imports from North Korea by China this year. Coal is the North’s most valuable export.”

So how else could the U.S. potentially apply pressure to get the country to dismantle its nuclear weapons program? 

“Among the options are returning North Korea to the U.S. state sponsor of terrorism blacklist, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week was under consideration. His spokesman, Mark Toner, said Wednesday that another tactic is getting nations around the world to close down North Korean embassies and consulates, or suspending them from international organizations,” writes Newsmax.

The government will also have a U.N. Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss the existing sanctions in place and what new sanctions to impose on the country. 

North Korea, on the other hand, plans to use force to deal with the tensions with the U.S.  

The North Korea’s U.N. mission said Wednesday the nation plans to react with “a total war” and will use nuclear weapons to win a victory in a “death-defying struggle against the U.S. imperialists.” 

Then on Thursday, the country released an hostile video clip. The North Korean propaganda shows a simulated attack on the White House, while declaring the U.S. as  “the enemy to be destroyed is in our sights.”

But, North Korea hasn’t responded to sanctions in the past by abandoning its nuclear weapons efforts and if the U.S. was to attack, innocent citizens in South Korea would be in grave danger. This puts Trump and his administration in an especially difficult position. 

Editor’s note: Nobody wants a war, but Trump is correct that we have to deal with North Korea now. They get continually stronger and more belligerent militarily, while the people there starve.

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