Just one more

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - NORTH KOREA -

As diplo­mats work be­hind the scenes to pre­vent Washington’s con­fronta­tion with Py­ongyang escalating into a full scale con­flict, Pres­i­dent Trump has con­tin­ued to post a se­ries of in­flam­ma­tory on­line re­marks – in­clud­ing one where he de­scribed Amer­ica’s deadly ar­se­nal of nu­clear weapons as be­ing “locked and loaded”.

How­ever, Pro­fes­sor Scott Lu­cas, an ex­pert in in­ter­na­tional politics at the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham, warned ef­forts to “rein in the pres­i­dent”, in­clud­ing hir­ing new White House chief of staff John Kelly, could prove fruit­less as the Twit­ter tirade con­tin­ues.

The so­cial me­dia posts in­cluded a tweet on Fri­day morn­ing which read: “Mil­i­tary so­lu­tions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act un­wisely. Hope­fully Kim Jong Un will find an­other path!”

Pro­fes­sor Lu­cas said: “The line was that John Kelly, who is a re­tired four-star gen­eral, would fi­nally rein Trump in, but there is no way that, when this man can put him­self in a locked room and watch morn­ing US TV, you can stop him wreak­ing havoc on so­cial me­dia.

“The ques­tion now is, af­ter Trump es­ca­lated the sit­u­a­tion with his words this week, will the adults take con­trol when it comes to ac­tion?”

He added that Pres­i­dent Trump was “much more re­strained” dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Fri­day af­ter­noon, just hours af­ter the “locked and loaded” tweet, but the bold state­ments con­tin­ued, in­clud­ing one in­sist­ing that the leader of North Korea will “re­gret it fast” if he “ut­ters one threat” against Amer­i­can ter­ri­tory or al­lies.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ap­pealed to both sides for calm amid fears the wors­en­ing war of words be­tween North RE­CENT in­tel­li­gence shows North Korea may be close to build­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles ca­pa­ble of reach­ing Washington, New York and London, with minia­turised nu­clear war­heads fit­ted to them.

That is not the only rea­son the threat from North Korea en­dan­gers the UK as well as the US and its al­lies in the re­gion.

Iran and North Korea have been col­lud­ing for years and we must as­sume any fu­ture tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances will be shared.

And Iran may not be alone among rogue states seek­ing help from Py­ongyang.

If North Korea con­tin­ues to get away with its il­le­gal weapons devel­op­ment, Iran will be em­bold­ened in its own nu­clear in­ten­tions, as will other Mid­dle East­ern states with sim­i­lar as­pi­ra­tions.

Nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion is the great­est threat to the world.

The war of words be­tween Kim Jong Un and Trump is escalating.

No 10 has sent strong signals that it will not stand be­hind its Amer­i­can ally in the event of con­flict with North Korea.

This is a grave mis­take. Not be­cause the US needs us – it could de­stroy the North Korean regime and its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity sin­gle-hand­edly.

But it is es­sen­tial that war is avoided.

The key is mil­i­tary deter­rence.

De­ter­ring North Korea from con­tin­u­ing down its path is now the only ef­fec­tive op­tion, diplo­macy and eco­nomic sanc­tions hav­ing failed con­sis­tently for the last 25 years.

The greater the in­ter­na­tional sup­port, the more ef­fec­tive the deter­rence.

Even more im­por­tantly, a mes­sage of al­lied mil­i­tary re­solve needs to reach China. Beijing keeps North Korea afloat, pay­ing lipser­vice to sanc­tions while main­tain­ing a net­work of com­pa­nies and banks con­duct­ing il­licit


The last thing China wants is US mil­i­tary ac­tion against North Korea on its own doorstep. Tak­ing steps them­selves to dis­lodge Kim Jong Un’s dic­ta­tor­ship would be prefer­able – but they will need to be pres­sured to do so.

The Bri­tish Govern­ment is un­der­stand­ably wor­ried that stand­ing by the US now will dam­age its trade re­la­tions with China – which will be­come even more im­por­tant post Brexit.

As so of­ten in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, there are no good choices.

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