U.S. says diplomacy isn’t its only option

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U.S. says diplomacy isn’t its only option


In response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test and the recent launch of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, two U.S. B-1B strategic bombers and four F-35B stealth fighters fly over the Korean Peninsula to perform a joint bombing drill with four South Korean F-15K fighters Monday morning. [YONHAP]

Washington has nearly exhausted its diplomatic options with North Korea, and the next step is military options, warned U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in an interview Sunday - which could lead to the destruction of the country.

Haley said that President Donald Trump’s “fire and fury” threat last month to North Korea was “not an empty threat” and that the U.S. military will “take care” of the situation should diplomacy fail.

“We have pretty much exhausted all the things that we could do at the [United Nations] Security Council at this point,” said Haley on CNN’s “State of the Union” ahead of the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 72nd session in New York this week.

“We wanted to be responsible and go through all diplomatic means to get their attention first,” she said. “If that doesn’t work, General Mattis will take care of it,” referring to U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

“There’s a whole lot of military options on the table,” Haley underscored, though she added that war is not wanted. “If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed.”

The 15-member UN Security Council unanimously adopted the latest sanctions resolution on North Korea one week ago in response to the regime’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3. It includes a cap on crude oil imports into North Korea.

Trump afterward called the UN sanctions “just another very small step, not a big deal” compared to what “ultimately will have to happen.” He added he was unsure whether the resolution “has any impact.”

Unlike Trump, however, Haley played up the impact of sanctions on Pyongyang, saying, “We have economically strangled North Korea at this point.”

She added, “Everybody in the international community sees what a big deal it is, but also we know the importance of enforcement.”

Pyongyang following the latest Security Council resolution by launching a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) last Friday, which flew 3,700 kilometers (2,299 miles) over Japan’s northern territory and landed in the northern Pacific Ocean - an illustration that it is capable of striking Guam or its vicinity if it wants to.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed a similar message, stating, “If our diplomatic efforts fail, though, our military option will be the only one left.

“But to be clear, we seek a peaceful solution to this,” he told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday on the ongoing efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile program

He said that Washington’s strategy has been to undertake a peaceful pressure campaign premised on “four nos” meant to reassure Pyongyang: not seeking regime change, a regime collapse, accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula, or a reason to send U.S. forces north of the demilitarized zone.

Tillerson said that Washington has tried a couple of times to “signal to them that we’re ready when they’re ready,” but Pyongyang responded with more missile launches and a nuclear test. “All they need to do to let us know they’re ready to talk is to just stop these tests, stop these provocative actions, and let’s lower the threat-level and the rhetoric,” he said.

Tillerson said that the most recent two Security Council resolutions, passed in June and last week, are “designed to bring North Korea to the table for constructive, productive dialogue.”

He pinpointed China as the principle supplier of oil to North Korea and added that Russia has over 30,000 foreign laborers from North Korea, whose wages return to North Korea.

His message to China is: “You have your hand on the valve. You set the valve where you think it’s going to create the message that you want to send to this regime, that they must change the path they’re on.”

Trump, who has been a vocal critic of the United Nations in general, heads to his first UN General Assembly in New York this week, where he will meet with world leaders and also address North Korea threats.

During his speech at the UN General Assembly this week, Trump is expected to “promote and advocate for the strength of democratic values” and reinforce that these shared values bind its alliances together and keep the world a stable place, according to Tillerson. Trump is expected to say that such values are “under attack” by North Korea, he added.

In a tweet Sunday after a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump apparently mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by calling him “Rocket Man.”

The tweet Sunday read: “I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”

His remarks appear to refer to the latest sanctions that cap supplies of crude oil and refined petroleum products to the North to and bans the sale of condensates and natural gas liquids.

H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, confirmed the tweet was about Kim, adding, “That is where the rockets and missiles are coming from,” on ABC’s “This Week” also on Sunday.

McMaster said on the actual impact of the Security Council sanctions, “We all have our doubts about whether or not that’s going to be enough,” saying the focus now is on enforcement.

But when asked whether Trump “will strike” if North Korea does not give up nuclear weapons, McMaster replied, “He’s been very clear about that, that all options are on the table.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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