Sat, Apr 15, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Military options considered as US eyes Pyongyang

CHINA, RUSSIA SPEAK:Beijing said that a conflict could erupt at any moment, while Moscow said it was observing and warned against provocative action

AFP, WASHINGTON and BEIJING

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer transits the South China Sea on Tuesday as part of the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group.

Photo: Reuters

The US is assessing military options in response to North Korea’s weapons programs, a White House foreign policy adviser said yesterday, adding that another provocative test was a question of “when” rather than “if.”

As speculation mounted that Pyongyang is preparing to fire a trial nuclear device or other missile on a major anniversary today, the official said that the US was poised to deal with the security threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

“Military options are already being assessed,” the adviser said on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, describing a fresh test as “possible.”

There are reports of activity at a nuclear test site in North Korea ahead of the 105th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder, Kim Il-sung.

“They have telegraphed a bit, it’s no surprise that the anniversary is on Saturday, traditionally he has the big parade and rolls out his weapons and his mock weapons,” the adviser said. “Unfortunately it’s not a new surprise for us, [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] continues to develop this program, he continues to launch missiles into the Sea of Japan. With the regime it’s not a matter of if, it’s when.”

The comments came after US President Donald Trump told reporters that the “problem” of North Korea “will be taken care of.”

In Beijing, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) said that a conflict over North Korea could break out “at any moment.”

“Lately, tensions have risen ... and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment,” Wang said. “If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner.”

Whichever side provoked a conflict “must assume the historic responsibility and pay the corresponding price,” he said in a joint news conference with visiting French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Wang’s comments mirrored a warning from the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affair’s Institute for Disarmament and Peace, which said “thermonuclear war may break out any moment.”

“The US introduces into the Korean Peninsula, the world’s biggest hotspot, huge nuclear strategic assets ... pushing the situation there to the brink of a war,” it said, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said it was watching the developments with “great concern.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow is calling on all parties to show restraint and refrain from any provocative action.

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