On April 18, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and leaders of other nations met in Japan. The group discussed strategies to denuclearize North Korea and put an end to strategic patience.
Pence summarized the meeting as a developing plan to apply diplomatic pressure to North Korea economically. If the country is shut-out, nuclear weapons development will cease.
The vice president visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone to show Kim Jong Un “the era of strategic patience is over.” In response, a senior official for the Asian nation accused the U.S. of bringing them to the edge of atomic war.
Pence is on a 10-day trip to talk to allies in Asia about denuclearizing North Korea through applied economic and diplomatic pressure. Included in his travels are Australia, Indonesia, Tokyo, Seoul, and Hawaii.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters he believes the U.S. would prefer to hold progressive conversations and ease tensions. Nevertheless, a military strike waits at the ready. On April 12, Kim was warned to cease missile testing or China will “severely limit” oil shipments to North Korea.
The Asian superpower has blocked the U.N. Security Council from restricting the oil supply sent to the northern peninsula, for over a decade. Maintaining the regime was the highest priority, although, that appears to be changing.
On April 5, People’s Daily, the media of the Chinese Communist Party, printed the country’s “bottom line” concerning North Korea. It seems China’s strategic patience to denuclearize the peninsula has come to an end.
China does not want the contamination from nuclear fallout or an outflow of refugees from the peninsula. The paper reported, a “hostile government” will not be tolerated in Pyongyang, nor would the U.S. military’s movement toward the Yalu River. This is the first clear directive from China, concerning the nuclear situation.
Since Donald Trump took office he has tweeted China, demanding the Asian leader tighten the reins on North Korean weapons. Government sources leaked information promising to punish an array of Chinese companies that have assisted Kim, while ignoring U.N. sanctions.
Push to End Strategic Patience and Denuclearize North Korea
The U.S. military expanded plans for the “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in South Korea.” In March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Asia to issue a warning: The U.S. would order a preemptive strike if Kim did not stop nuclear development. He also announced strategic patience had ended.
April 6-7, the center of the discussions between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping was the denuclearization of North Korea. It was during this summit, Trump ordered Tomahawk missiles to the Syrian air base, in response to the chemical weapons attack.
It is surmised the actions taken by the Trump administration opened China’s eyes. Xi called the White House, on April 11, he wants the matter solved peacefully. The National Post reported China has to balance between “two unpredictable actors,” as an ally to both countries.
Japan would prefer peaceful talks; however, Abe says economic and diplomatic pressure is necessary. Pence stated the U.S. firmly stands with Japan.
Pence believes North Korea understands the time of strategic patience has come to an end and needs to stop manufacturing nuclear weapons, according to CNN. The vice president is hopeful this message will be solidified as countries unite to denuclearize the Asian peninsula.
China suggested the U.S. stop antagonizing North Korea with military exercises in the southern peninsula. In exchange, Kim would put an end to the nuclear program. Instead, the U.S. trained F-35 fighters in South Korea, conducted missile defense drills, and the second-largest military air exercise, Max Thunder, with the southern peninsula. North Korea continues to test missiles, promising a nuclear test, and paraded around new weapons.
Bloomberg reported that analysts believe Kim could have 10 to 25 nuclear weapons hidden underground and possibly the world’s largest chemical arsenal. This does not include North Korea’s cyberwarfare abilities or biological weapons research program.
Alternative Options Ready to Denuclearize the Korean Peninsula
The USS Carl Vinson, a strike team aircraft carrier, was ordered to move into Korean waters, by the Pentagon. The Korean Central News Agency reported this act as reckless, and intended to aggravate tension.
The White House is dedicated to guiding allies to isolate North Korea, through the manipulation of diplomatic and economic power. The end goal is to denuclearize the country.
The Trump administration is not afraid to launch missiles to assert warnings. The U.S. has a bomb that is larger than the 21,600-pound Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) dropped on ISIS in Afghanistan.
The 16-ton (32,000 pounds), Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP) is a non-nuclear bomb designed to abolish underground nuclear reactors producing plutonium. The MOP is GPS guided and carried by a B2 bomber plane.
Former White House coordinator for weapons of mass destruction, Gary Samore, stated a preemptive strike is not be a viable option. In 2002, it was believed North Korea’s nuclear reactor, which produces weapons-grade plutonium, could be destroyed without causing a meltdown. Nevertheless, if the pistons are cracked, it will cause a meltdown; if the cooling system stops; nuclear meltdown is imminent.
Recently, the country has threatened nuclear war if the U.S. decides to take military action. State-run television for the Asian peninsula is running a video of their American enemy, engulfed in flames following several missile strikes. On April 20, North Korean media reported, if the country is provoked “the US and South Korea will be completely destroyed in an instant.”
China has openly opposed the rhetoric and propaganda North Korea is using to escalate the situation. The Asian ally to the U.S., and the northern peninsula, is actively preparing for war. Air force bombers are on high alert and other military aircraft are undergoing maintenance.
By Jeanette Smith
Time: Vice President Mike Pence: U.S. Will Not Rest Until North Korea Gives Up Nuclear Weapons
CNN: Pence: North Korea is ‘getting the message’
National Post: John Pomfret: China has gotten the message Trump sent, and they’re getting tough on North Korea
Bloomberg: Trump Mulls U.S. Military Options for North Korea, All Grim
CNN: China criticizes North Korea, praises US on nuclear issue
World Nuclear Association: Plutonium
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