The deepening standoff with North Korea and the Iran nuclear accord are expected to top President Donald Trump’s agenda when he delivers his debut address to the United Nations General Assembly session next week. He will meet jointly with the leaders of South Korea and Japan for lunch on Thursday to discuss the looming North Korean threat.
In a tweet on September 17, Mr Trump mocked Kim Jong-un as the “Rocket Man” adding to his long line of inflammatory comments directed at the DPRK chief. He said: “I spoke with president Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”
The Trump administration is getting increasingly vocal about the possibility of a military action if North Korea does not put a lid on its nuclear programme. The United Nations Security Council adopted a new round of sanctions on North Korea last Monday, reducing gasoline exports and crude oil supplies, in response to the nation’s sixth and largest nuclear weapons test. But the defiant regime responded with a fresh missile launch over Japan on Friday warning sanctions will only further accelerate its nuclear programme.
Speaking to CNN, US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said, “If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behaviour, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed.”
US administration officials have warned that the risk from North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme is rising and that Trump will be vocal about it at the UNGA to rally international support against the rogue nation.
“He is going to have to give up his nuclear weapons, because the President has said that he is not going to tolerate this regime threatening the United States and our citizens with a nuclear weapon,” National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster told ABC news.
Talking about the sanctions, McMaster said, “We all have our doubts about whether or not that’s going to be enough and so we have to prepare all options. We have to make sure all options are under development to ensure that this regime cannot threaten the world with a nuclear weapon.” Many US allies are, however, sceptical of the use of force to deal with North Korea.
Contrary to Trump’s claims about North Korea reeling under the sanctions, reports suggest that not much difference is being observed on the ground. Military welfare remains the regime’s top priority and it will cut down on the non-military use of oil pushing an already impoverished civilian population further into despair. A recent UN report suggested that North Korea had already found ways around the existing sanctions and exported about $270m in banned items between February and August this year.
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