Korean Crisis: US Yet To Take Clear Stand

It is still unclear what America actually wants to do in order to prevent North Korea from implementing its ‘reckless’ nuclear programme.
After becoming the president in January, Donald Trump said on numerous occasions that he would teach his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un a lesson for destabilising the world. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, popularly known as the closest person to President Trump, hinted that war could be an option to deal with Pyongyang. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, too, expressed the same view.

Donald Trump

A couple of weeks ago, the American president strongly criticised China for backing North Korea. Senator Graham also sent a strong message to Beijing, saying: “Japan, South Korea, China would all be in the crosshairs of a war, if we started one with North Korea. If there’s going to be a war to stop (Kim), it will be over there (Korea Bay). If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And (Trump) told me that to my face.”
However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently issued a completely different statement. Speaking at a press conference in Washington on August 2, he said (to North Korea): “We are not your enemy. We do not seek regime change. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the (Korean) peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military to north of the 38th parallel (which divides North and South Korea).” Even, the state secretary claimed that America was ready to sit down for talks with North Korea. At the same time, Tillerson made it clear that Pyongyang would have to stop test-firing missiles before holding talks with Washington. “We felt the appropriate thing to do first was to seek peaceful pressure on the regime of North Korea, to have them develop a willingness to sit and talk with us and others – but with an understanding that a condition of those talks is that there is no future where North Korea holds nuclear weapons or the ability to deliver those nuclear weapons to anyone in the region, much less to the homeland,” he said.

Rex Tillerson (Getty Image)

It is surprising that Tillerson denied the possibility of a war with North Korea ahead of his three-nation visit to Asia (The Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia) on August 5-9. The most important question is: why the US has changed its stance on North Korea? According to some foreign policy experts, President Kim shocked the Trump administration by announcing that North Korea was “fully equipped with nuclear attack capability” and ready to strike the US with a nuclear weapon. Experts believe Kim’s warning has prompted Washington to soften its stand. Others are of the opinion that it is a calculated diplomatic move, as America is trying to put North Korea under tremendous diplomatic pressure by allowing Tillerson to continue sending the message of peace. The Trump administration believes that the move will encourage the North Korean leader to change his decision. Tillerson hinted that the main aim of the move was to keep Kim under pressure (peacefully).
Although President Trump said that he was “very disappointed in China which had done nothing for the US with regards to North Korea”, Tillerson did not blame the Asian giant for the ongoing crisis. “We certainly don’t blame China for the situation in North Korea. Only the North Koreans are to blame for this situation,” stressed the state secretary.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Image: CNN)

Meanwhile, newly appointed Press Secretary of the White House Sarah Huckabee Sanders has tried to hide such open dissonance between the president and a senior member of his Cabinet, saying: “We’ve been very focused on stopping the nuclear programme, stopping the missiles, stopping the aggression. That still continues to be the focus, and we’re keeping those – all options on the table in order to do that. We’re not going to broadcast what we’re going to do until that happens.”

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