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Trump says ‘totally prepared’ for military action; North nixes six-party talks

US President Donald Trump on Sunday renewed the possibility of military action against North Korea, while the North‘s senior diplomat refused to return to long-stalled six-nation talks for denuclearization unless the US’ attitude changes. 

US President Donald Trump (AP-Yonhap)
US President Donald Trump (AP-Yonhap)

Trump said he is “totally prepared” to use military force against the rogue regime if necessary, in an interview with Fox News on Sunday. The remark follows a series of bellicose rhetoric between the US president and Pyongyang. Trump previously threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, which the North’s top body viewed as a “declaration of war” as it hinted at a possible hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean near Guam.

Despite the international community’s efforts to bring North Korea to dialogue, Pyongyang will not return to six-party talks unless existing issues with the US are resolved, North Korean Foreign Ministry Director General of North America Affairs Choi Sun-hee said during the Moscow Nonproliferation Conference.

“Suggestions from various countries are welcome, but as the US is the country that is trying to pressure and to bring about the collapse of North Korea, the issue must be resolved with the US,” Choi was quoted as saying.

Choi also reportedly blamed the US for escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and said her homeland would continue developing its nuclear program if the US does not give up its hostile policies toward North Korea.

Washington has displayed visible support for the United Nations Security Council’s move to draw strong resolutions against the North and even drew unilateral sanctions to isolate North Korea diplomatically and economically.

Trump has also, on numerous occasions, made clear his distaste for talks with North Korea. Earlier this month, he dismissed the idea of dialogue as a “waste of time,” a day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was working toward opening lines of communication with Pyongyang.

Trump is expected to address issues surrounding the establishment of dialogue channels with the North Korean regime and its nuclear ambition during his visit to Seoul from Nov. 7-8.

Meanwhile, top diplomats and officials here and in the US have been expressing concerns over North Korea’s fast-developing nuclear and missile program, which many claimed is “nearly complete.”

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Saturday that North Korea’s next provocation can come “at any time” and said “it is true” that the North’s weapons program is just mere “months” away from completion, in an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Brussels.

“North Korea declaring the completion of its nuke weapon and it having a strategy on how to actually use it are different issues,” Kang added.

Kang’s words echo those of Mike Pompeo, director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, that North Korea could be months away from securing the ability to strike the US with a nuclear weapon.

“They are closer now than they were five years ago, and I expect they will be closer in five months than they are today, absent a global effort to push back against them,” Pompeo said, adding that the North is close enough now in their capabilities from a US policy perspective.

In line with Trump’s statement, the US Air Force has ordered its fleet of nuclear-armed B-52 bombers stationed at a base in Louisiana on 24-hour alert, US Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein told Defense One. The 24-hour alert status for the bombers ended in 1991, as the Cold War faded into history.

“The world is a dangerous place and we’ve got folks that are talking openly about the use of nuclear weapons,” Goldfein said while explaining the US Air Force is trying to find ways of using nuclear weapons as a deterrence.

The B-52, which can fly up to about 50,000 feet, was designed to carry an array of weapons, including 70,000lbs of nuclear and conventional weapons.

Marc Knapper, acting US ambassador to South Korea, said the US is currently focused on imposing diplomatic and economic pressure to denuclearize North Korea by working closely with allies, in a speech at a forum in Seoul on Monday.

By Jung Min-kyung & news reports (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)
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