Trump’s North Korea threat dismissed
THE TWO countries most at risk from a US attack on North Korea largely brushed off US President Donald Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury”.
South Korea said on Wednesday it was watching for any new provocations by North Korea, and would continue to push for peace. Yonhap News Agency cited an unidentified official at the presidential office in Seoul saying there was no “imminent crisis”.
In Japan, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga spent more time answering questions on Wednesday about a dispute with the US over the safety of its Osprey military aircraft than about North Korea. A senior Japanese official, who asked not to be identified, said there was no mobilisation for a military strike and very few people in the government were taking Trump’s comments seriously.
Trump followed his “fire and fury” threat by stating that the American nuclear arsenal was stronger than ever. “There will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world,” he said on Wednesday.
Trump’s comments prompted a wave of criticism in Washington. Senator John McCain said he wasn’t sure Trump was ready to act, while Representative Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs committee, said the comments “undermined American credibility by drawing an absurd red line”.
The subdued reaction from Seoul and Tokyo in part reflects their long history of dealing with threats from North Korea. Both US allies have long been in the firing line of Kim Jong-un and regularly hear the regime’s threats of death and destruction. South Korea and Japan each host US troops and depend on the American “nuclear umbrella” to deter an attack.
Still, Trump’s comments on Wednesday highlight a growing concern over the reliability of the US as a strategic partner.
Trump has said South Korea and Japan should pay more to host US troops and sought to renegotiate trade terms.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s top weapons supplier, Lockheed Martin, has experienced a sharp rise in their stock shares since Trump’s threats of a potential military option have escalated. The shares have risen nearly 8% in the past month.