Trump Swings at North Korea; Russia and China Urge Calm
The typical response from the United States to threats coming from the North Korean regime have been fairly muted over the past couple decades. President Trump changed all that yesterday promising “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if North Korea makes good on threats to attack the United States. Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to claim that the threats from the repressive state remain hollow and meaningless.
Latest on the showdown from the UK Sun:
DONALD Trump has said the US’ nuclear arsenal is “more powerful than ever before” in a fresh warning to North Korea after crackpot Kim Jong-un threatened to unleash “enveloping fire” around Guam airbase.
Trump today tweeted: “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.
“Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”
The tweets came after tensions between the quarrelling nations mounted with the president responding to Kim Jong-un’s missile tests by launching supersonic B-1B bombers from the US airbase and warning that America would respond to threats with “fire and fury”.
Minutes before Trump tweeted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said: “What the president is doing, is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”
Tillerson went on to say “I do not believe that there is any imminent threat” from North Korea, adding “Americans should sleep well at night.”
Yesterday two Air Force B-1B fighter jets took off from the US base on Guam alongside bombers from Japan and South Korea, in a blatant display of American military strength.
A case can be made that meeting North Korean threats with forceful rhetoric is a new course when dealing with this festering issue. President Bush and President Obama (see here and here) vowed to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear state, but it appears that the sanctions and deals made over the years have not amounted to much given recent events. A case can also be made that Kim Jong-un is testing the new American president to see how far he can push him, as is often the case with a new administration.
Meanwhile, Russia is downplaying the threats and telling the United States to shrug it off:
Russia’s top diplomat downplayed North Korea’s nuclear saber-rattling following a diplomatic summit Tuesday, and said the United States has to take “prudent” steps to deescalate the crisis.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized that North Korea always complains about sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. The regime threatened a “physical” response to the new sanctions and warned South Korea it has the ability turn “Seoul into a sea of flame,” but Lavrov betrayed little alarm.
“Strictly speaking, this is how representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have reacted to all previous U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he told reporters Tuesday following an east Asia diplomatic summit in the Philippines. “We will judge by their actions.”
And China would like things to remain as-is, without any unnecessary escalation:
China urged calm on Wednesday after North Korea said it was considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam and President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.
China calls on all parties to avoid any words or actions that might escalate the situation and make even greater efforts to resolve the issue via talks, the ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters.
For the Chinese, this issue remains a bargaining chip with the United States. China would like to see North Korea remain a thorn in the side of the US, but mostly just an annoying one. Escalating to an actual war would destabilize the region, which is something China would rather avoid. If they can keep their North Korean puppy from chewing up the couch, then they can also keep themselves at the center of negotiations with the United States on brokering some kind of deal to avoid war.
Filed in: Foreign Policy Tagged in: China guam north korea nuclear Russia trump USA