The test, which triggered an emergency session of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, was seen as a major step forward in North Korea’s missile program, as some experts believe the regime for the first time has the capability to strike Alaska and the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S.
“What we have to do is prepare all options because the president 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 target the American population,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said last week during remarks at a Washington think tank, adding that the president did not want to repeat a failed approach.
“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,” McMaster said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in asked major powers to consider levying new sanctions on the North Korean regime on Wednesday (Thursday on Korean time) as a response to the test, calling it a “provocation.”
U.S. officials are making reassuring statements, insisting the U.S. can defend against any potential threat.
“[W]e do have confidence in our ability to defend against the limited threat, the nascent threat that is there,” Pentagon spokesman and Navy Captin Jeff Davis told reporters.
President Trump on Wednesday denounced a North Korean-Chinese trade deal, expressing frustration at the Chinese for taking a less hostile approach in dealing with the Hermit Kingdom. Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the second time during the G20 summit in Germany on Thursday and Friday.
Trump is also scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, but reportedly with no specific agenda. Likely topics of discussion include the ongoing Syrian civil war, the North Korean missile test and the sanctions imposed on Russia over events in Ukraine during the American-backed coup carried out in that country in 2014.
The Chinese and Russians have urged the North Koreans and the Americans to sign on to a Chinese de-escalation plan designed to smooth over tensions surrounding Pyongyang’s missile program. In an attempt to pave the way for multilateral talks, the plan would put a freeze on the North Korean ballistic missile program, as well as halt U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
“The situation in the region affects the national interests of both countries,” officials from the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministries said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “Russia and China will work in close coordination to advance a solution to the complex problem of the Korean Peninsula in every possible way.”
The statement also called on Washington to stop the deployment of its THAAD missile defense systems in South Korea and accused the U.S. of using the North Korea issue as a “pretext” to expand its military presence in Asia.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday also asked the North Koreans to not violate UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to ballistic missiles. Geng Shuang, a Ministry spokesman, repeated the request for restraint.
Both China and Russia share a land border with North Korea, giving them a direct stake in many of the controversies related to that country, including escalated hostilities with the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for “global action” on Tuesday, asking other nations to cut off the North Korean regime.
“Global action is required to stop a global threat,” Tillerson said in a written statement. “Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.”
Despite the American confidence and reassurances, any real military confrontation with North Korea would likely entail a bloodbath and would plunge the North and South into war. The North has thousands of artillery pieces positioned along its southern border, and while U.S. air power could make relatively quick work of them, plenty of damage would have already been done by that time.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned it “would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”
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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.