A nuclear North Korea presents a direct threat to the United States and could punch a hole in the US nuclear umbrella in Asia: Japan and South Korea. China curbing imports of coal from its North Korea has probably increased Pyongyang’s fears of isolation. Last week, the two held telephone talks after Pyongyang fired four ballistic missiles into the East Sea, three of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The US Army is permanently stationing an attack drone system and its support personnel in South Korea amid ongoing tensions with the North, a Defense Department spokesman said Monday. The consensus in the Trump administration is that some new actions must be taken because the strategy of “strategic patience” under President Barack Obama has proven a failure.
While in Japan, Tillerson is expected to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The former Exxon Mobil CEO has adopted a low profile during his six weeks as secretary of state.
The most challenging task will probably come in China, Tillerson’s final stop, where businesses continue to help North Korea evade United Nations sanctions even after it halted coal imports from the country earlier this year, according to experts.
I still believe President Trump made a strategic mistake by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which left Asian allies to be more easily coerced by China’s economic power.
Japan and South Korea are the main cruise destinations reachable from northern China on the four- and five-day itineraries preferred by most Chinese. The hot issue is the impeachment of President Geun-hye Park, calling new election, formation of an elected government, and improvement of ties with Japan (sourced by the Comfort Women feud as Japan recalled its heads of diplomatic missions in December).
Trump has allayed some of those concerns since taking office.
“If the United States and South Korea harm the strategic security interests of countries in the region, including China, they are destined to pay the price for this and receive a proper counter attack”, the People’s Daily wrote last September. The State Department says Tillerson wants to discuss “fresh” approaches.
However, while South Korea relies heavily on China economically, for military protection against a nuclear-armed North Korea, it has to turn to the USA, given China’s reluctance to tame its communist ally. The UN Security Council has imposed a number of tough sanctions, but North Korea remains undeterred by global rebukes.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile test within the a year ago, including four missiles that were fired near a U.S. Marine based in South Korea last week.
“The US and South Korea often accuse China of being uncooperative, but the reality is they are uncooperative over China’s mediation”, it said, referring to complaints that China does not do enough to rein in old ally North Korea. Also, Japan is contemplating a first-strike against the provocateur to prevent further missile launches and to thwart a possible attack against Japan. The next day, the USA began bringing in equipment for the long-planned deployment in South Korea of a missile defense system, known by its acronym, THAAD.
China arrested two South Korean Christian pastors for allegedly helping to smuggle North Korean defectors out of China, the latest in a string of detentions and expulsions aimed at South Korean Christians in the past several months.
Among the other options pushed by the hawkish wing of the Washington foreign policy community are secondary sanctions that would target any Chinese banks that work with Pyongyang. But these components may not get installed because all leading candidates seeking to succeed her want to “rethink” installing THAAD in exchange for closer ties with China and North Korea. And Reuters states that F-18 fighter jets have been taking off from the carrier deck “in a dramatic display of usa firepower amid rising tension with the North”, which accelerated its nuclear plan in the past year.
Foal Eagle (FE) is a field training exercise (FTX) which aims to develop capabilities for ROK-U.S. combined operations. Aid-for-disarmament negotiations have been stalled for years.
The ministry said that it sees North Korea being able to conduct a nuclear test at any time if its leadership makes the order to do so.