U.S. warns North Korea, pres­sures China

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — The United States warned Wed­nes­day that North Korea was “quickly clos­ing off” the prospect of a diplo­matic res­o­lu­tion to its provo­ca­tions, a day af­ter Py­ongyang suc­cess­fully tested its first in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

Tues­day’s ICBM launch, con­firmed by U.S. and South Korean of­fi­cials, was a mile­stone in North Korea’s ef­forts to de­velop long-range, nu­clear-armed mis­siles. Pen­tagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the mis­sile was a ver­sion not pre­vi­ously seen and that it had an es­ti­mated range in ex­cess of 3,400 miles. It was sent not from a fixed site but from a mo­bile launcher, which can be harder to tar­get.

La­bel­ing the rocket an ICBM re­flects a U.S. assess­ment that North Korea now may be ca­pa­ble of strik­ing the U.S. — pos­si­bly Hawaii or Alaska — though it’s be­lieved to be some way from the ca­pa­bil­ity to de­liver a nu­clear pay­load to the U.S. main­land.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and other se­nior of­fi­cials dan­gled the prospect of pun­ish­ing coun­tries that trade with North Korea — a threat aimed di­rectly at China, Py­ongyang’s big­gest bene­fac­tor. In a tweet Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Trump ques­tioned why the U.S. should con­tinue what he sees as bad trade deals “with coun­tries that do not help us.”

Some ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials are still hold­ing out hope of per­suad­ing China to ratchet up eco­nomic pres­sure on Py­ongyang. Trump, who de­parted for Europe on Wed­nes­day, is sched­uled to meet Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping on the side­lines of the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ger­many.

Af­ter the launch, the White House, the Trea­sury Depart­ment, the State Depart­ment, the Pen­tagon and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies ac­cel­er­ated dis­cus­sions on op­tions for re­spond­ing to Py­ongyang’s nu­clear pur­suits. The talks cen­ter in part on the same ideas pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions have con­sid­ered, in­clud­ing di­rect

diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions and pre-emp­tive mil­i­tary ac­tion.

In a show of force, U.S. and South Korean troops on Wed­nes­day fired “deep strike” pre­ci­sion mis­siles off South Korea’s east coast. South Korea’s mil­i­tary later re­leased pre­vi­ously shot video show­ing the test-fir­ing of so­phis­ti­cated South Korean mis­siles and a com­puter-gen­er­ated im­age de­pict­ing a North Korean flag in flames with the back­drop of a ma­jor build­ing in Py­ongyang, North Korea’s cap­i­tal.

The top U.S. gen­eral in South Korea said “self-re­straint” was all that was keep­ing the United States and South Korea from go­ing to war with the North.

The un­usu­ally blunt warn­ing from Gen. Vin­cent Brooks came as the South’s de­fense min­is­ter in­di­cated that the North’s mis­sile had the po­ten­tial to reach Hawaii.

“Self-re­straint, which is a choice, is all that sep­a­rates armistice and war,” Brooks said, re­fer­ring to the 1953 cease-fire that halted but never of­fi­cially ended the Korean War. “As this al­liance mis­sile live-fire shows, we are able to change our choice when so or­dered by our al­liance na­tional lead­ers.

“It would be a grave mis­take for any­one to be­lieve any­thing to the con­trary.”

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in asked Trump on Tues­day night to en­dorse the joint ex­er­cise, ar­gu­ing that the al­lies needed to re­spond to the North’s provo­ca­tion with “more than state­ments,” Moon’s of­fice said.

The South Korean mil­i­tary said the mis­siles, which had a range of about 185 miles, had been fired to test their abil­ity to launch “a pre­ci­sion strike at the en­emy lead­er­ship” in case of war. It did not say how far the mis­siles had trav­eled.

Ja­pan’s chief Cabi­net sec­re­tary, Yoshi­hide Suga, said Wed­nes­day that Ja­pan and the United States had agreed to take “spe­cific ac­tions to im­prove our de­fense sys­tems and our abil­ity to de­ter North Korea.”

Suga did not say what those ac­tions were, but a spokesman for the De­fense Min­istry said the govern­ment was con­sid­er­ing buy­ing bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fense sys­tems from the United States.

At an emer­gency meet­ing of the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, U.S. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley called Py­ongyang’s mis­sile launch “a clear and sharp mil­i­tary es­ca­la­tion.” She said that while the U.S. is not seek­ing a mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion, mil­i­tary op­tions are in­deed on the ta­ble.

“Their ac­tions are quickly clos­ing off the pos­si­bil­ity of a diplo­matic so­lu­tion,” she said.

Step­ping up pres­sure on China, Ha­ley warned Bei­jing that it risks its trade re­la­tion­ship with the United States if its busi­ness deal­ings with North Korea vi­o­late U.N. sanc­tions.

Ha­ley said that “the world has be­come a more dan­ger­ous place” and that China has a key role in pro­mot­ing peace.

“If we act to­gether, we can still pre­vent a catas­tro­phe,” Ha­ley said. “We can rid the world of a great threat. If we fail to act in a se­ri­ous way, there will be a dif­fer­ent re­sponse.”

Ha­ley said the United States doesn’t seek con­flict but is pre­pared to use its “con­sid­er­able mil­i­tary forces” to de­fend it­self and its al­lies “if we must.”

But she said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion prefers “not to go in that di­rec­tion” but would rather use its “great ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the area of trade” to ad­dress “those who threaten us and … those who sup­ply the threats.”

China is re­spon­si­ble for 90 per­cent of trade with North Korea, and Ha­ley said she had a long con­ver­sa­tion Wed­nes­day morn­ing with Trump about U.S. clout when it comes to trade.

China’s trade with the North grew 37.4 per­cent dur­ing the first three months of the year, com­pared with the same pe­riod in 2016, Chi­nese trade data re­leased in April showed. China said the trade grew even as it stopped buy­ing North Korean coal.

Un­til re­cently, Amer­i­can of­fi­cials had been de­scrib­ing China as a part­ner in the strat­egy to pre­vent North Korea from de­vel­op­ing the abil­ity to strike the U.S. main­land with nu­clear weapons. But Trump has ex­pressed grow­ing ir­ri­ta­tion at Bei­jing’s re­luc­tance to tighten the screws on Py­ongyang over its nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams.

“Trade be­tween China and North Korea grew al­most 40% in the first quar­ter,” Trump said in one of the tweets on Wed­nes­day. “So much for China work­ing with us — but we had to give it a try!”

China’s U.N. am­bas­sador, Liu Jieyi, made no men­tion of U.S.-China trade dur­ing the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing, nor did he re­spond to Ha­ley’s re­marks.

In­stead, he strongly urged North Korea to stop “any rhetoric and ac­tion that might fur­ther ex­ac­er­bate the ten­sion of the Korean Penin­sula.”

“We call on all par­ties con­cerned to ex­er­cise re­straint, avoid provoca­tive ac­tions and bel­liger­ent rhetoric, demon­strate the will for un­con­di­tional di­a­logue and work ac­tively to­gether to defuse the ten­sion,” Liu said. “China is firmly op­posed to chaos and con­fronta­tion on the penin­sula. Mil­i­tary means must not be an op­tion in this re­gard.”

Rus­sian Deputy Am­bas­sador Vladimir Safronkov echoed the call for “re­straint rather than provo­ca­tion and war­mon­ger­ing.” He stressed that “any at­tempts to jus­tify a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion are in­ad­mis­si­ble” and will lead “to un­pre­dictable con­se­quences for the re­gion.”

“At­tempts to eco­nom­i­cally stran­gle North Korea are equally un­ac­cept­able as mil­lions of peo­ple are in great hu­man­i­tar­ian need,” Safronkov said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “firmly de­ter­mined and com­mit­ted” to test an ICBM that can reach the U.S. main­land within the year, the state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency said Wed­nes­day. It said the ICBM launched on Tues­day was ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a newly de­vel­oped, large-sized nu­clear war­head.

North Korean state me­dia de­scribed Kim as “feast­ing his eyes” on the ICBM be­fore Tues­day’s launch.

“With a broad smile on his face,” Kim urged his sci­en­tists to “fre­quently send big and small ‘gift pack­ages’ to the Yan­kees,” it said, an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to the con­tin­u­ing stream of nu­clear and mis­sile tests Kim has or­dered since tak­ing power in late 2011. In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Fos­ter Klug, Hyung-jin Kim, Geir Moulson, Edith M. Lederer, Josh Lederman, Robert Burns, Julie Pace and Vivian Salama of The As­so­ci­ated Press; by Choe Sang-Hun, Rick Glad­stone, Motoko Rich and Julie Hirschfeld Davis of The New York

Times; and by Nick Wad­hams, Kanga Kong, Sey­oon Kim, Shin­hye Kang, Chelsea Mes, Kam­biz Foroohar, Adam Haigh, Ja­son Scott, Keith Zhai and Tony Ca­pac­cio of Bloomberg News.

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