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Donald Trump keeps pressure on North Korea as force remains option

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-09-2017 Margaret Talev

Washington: President Donald Trump said it’s not “inevitable” that the US will wind up in a war with North Korea over its continued development of nuclear weapons, but that military action remains an option.

“Nothing’s inevitable,” Trump said in a news conference on Thursday at the White House with the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah. “I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it is something certainly that could happen.”

He declined to say whether he’d accept a nuclear-armed North Korea that can be successfully deterred from using atomic weapons. A senior administration official later told reporters that the US will not allow North Korea to extort or threaten the world with its nuclear program, and that the administration is not sure the country can be deterred.

The Trump administration is seeking to ratchet up pressure on North Korea after the country tested what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb on Sunday, following several successful tests of ballistic missiles with intercontinental range.

The official said that the danger of war is rising, and that the US is also concerned about North Korea exporting its nuclear technology to other nations or to terror groups. Any threat to the US or its allies will be met with a massive military response, the official said.

“North Korea is behaving very badly and it’s got to stop,” Trump said at the press conference.

The US is circulating a draft resolution at the United Nations that would bar crude oil shipments to North Korea, ban the nation’s exports of textiles and prohibit employment of its guest workers by other countries, according to a diplomat at the world body. The proposal also calls for freezing the assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But China and Russia, both of which have veto power in the Security Council, have indicated resistance to imposing more sanctions on North Korea.

Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping spoke for 45 minutes Wednesday as the US president seeks China’s help in putting pressure on Pyongyang. While both sides released statements agreeing on the goal of eliminated nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, there was no mention of next steps.

Top Trump administration officials including defence secretary James Mattis, secretary of state Rex Tillerson and joint chiefs of staff chairman Joseph Dunford briefed Congress on Wednesday about the crisis and the administration’s approach. Bloomberg

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