Engaging North Korea diplomatically is the only responsible option, the only one able to work, the only sound policy Trump administration officials reject.
Washington bears full responsibility for heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, not Pyongyang.
Instead of efforts to step back from the brink, NBC News said “(t)he Trump administration is readying a package of diplomatic and military moves against North Korea, including cyberattacks and increased surveillance and intelligence operations…”
With or without Security Council authorization, perhaps Trump intends ordering interdictions and inspections of North Korean ships in international waters – something Pyongyang won’t tolerate, a policy, if ordered, risking war.
Other options Trump is weighing include stiffer unilateral sanctions including against Chinese banks doing business with North Korea, deploying additional THAAD missile systems Russia and China strongly object to, installing land-based Aegis SM-3 missile interceptors, deploying tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea ending decades of US peninsula denuclearization policy, or possible preemptive military strikes.
“I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it’s something certainly that could happen,” Trump said days earlier.
China told the Trump administration it’ll support Pyongyang if Washington attacks the country preemptively, repeating its earlier warning, saying:
“If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”
Separately, British officials suggested Iran helped North Korea develop its nuclear capability, an unacceptable provocative claim.
According to The Telegraph, “North Korea ‘secretly helped by Iran…gain(ed) nuclear weapons,’ British officials fear.”
“Senior Whitehall sources told The Sunday Telegraph it is not credible that North Korean scientists alone brought about the technological advances.”
Claiming Russia may have helped Pyongyang develop its nuclear weapons capability is absurd and insulting.
Iran doesn’t have this capability. Its nuclear program has no military component. It strongly urges a nuclear-free Middle East. Israel is the only regional armed and dangerous nuclear power.
In an interview published Sunday in France’s Le Journal du Dimanche broadsheet, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called brinksmanship on the Korean peninsula the world’s worst crisis in years, saying:
“(O)ther have started through an escalation caused by sleepwalking…We have to hope that the seriousness of this threat puts us on the path of reason before it is too late,” adding Pyongyang must halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
Like his predecessors, Guterres represents Western interests. Instead of explaining why Pyongyang needs this deterrent, he was silent about its genuine fear of US aggression.
The way to suspend its nuclear and ballistic missile programs is by ending the threat it faces – something Washington rejects, heightening tensions further instead of easing them responsibly.