Trump’s N Korea diplomacy looks troubled. It may not mean war

13-May-2019 Intellasia | USA Today | 6:00 AM Print This Post

President Donald Trump’s attempt to make a “great deal” with North Korea over its nuclear programme appears increasingly in peril as Kim Jong Un has ordered new missile tests and directed his country’s military “to cope with any emergency.”

“Nobody’s happy,” Trump said Thursday after North Korea launched short-range missiles for the second time in less than a week. On Friday, Kim told his forces to be on high alert after the US seized a large cargo ship that was attempting to smuggle coal out of North Korea in violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions.

“(Kim) stressed the need to further increase the capability of the defense units in the forefront area and on the western front to carry out combat tasks and keep full combat posture,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a state media outlet that rarely quotes Pyongyang’s leader directly, reported. KCNA said Kim “set forth important tasks for further increasing the strike ability” of North Korea’s weapon systems.

Analysts said the implications for Trump’s diplomatic efforts at denuclearising the Korean Peninsula were not entirely clear, and that while North Korea’s escalating rhetoric and military preparedness did not signal war, it showed how far apart the two nations were after two historic summits between Trump and North Korea’s leader.

“These new developments show that neither country is able to sustain any kind of negotiation beyond the summits,” said Waheguru Pal Singh, a defense and foreign policy expert at New York University’s centre on International Cooperation, who has also consulted for the United Nations on international peace and security issues.

“For me, the key marker will be if the US resumes joint military exercises with South Korea, and how the North reacts,” he said, referring to longstanding annual large-scale Washington-Seoul military drills Trump ended in March to reduce tensions.

About 28,000 US troops plus thousands more family members and Department of Defense employees are stationed in South Korea, and their presence, and the joint military exercises, have for years been a source of North Korean anger.

The projectiles North Korea launched Saturday, and then Thursday, were the first since Pyongyang paused missile launches in late 2017. All splash-landed in the Pacific.

Trump has refused to yield to North Korean demands to lift economic sanctions.

South Korea and US intelligence analysts are still examining the missiles, but Michael Elleman, a missile defense expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank with offices in London and Washington, said they resemble the Russian-designed Iskander, which has a range of about 200 miles and can fit a warhead.

“Iskander can exploit gaps in South Korean and American missile-defense coverage,” Elleman wrote in a blog post on 38 North, a Koreas-focused website.

There was further evidence that North Korea may be ramping up its military capabilities even as the Trump administration has insisted the president has maintained a good relationship with Kim despite summits in Singapore and Vietnam that ended with no tangible denuclearisation steps for Pyongyang.

On Thursday night, Beyond Parallel, a programme affiliated with the C


Category: Korea

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