AntiWar.com & Al-Jazeera & The Associated Press – 2017-03-09 00:20:16
US Rejects China’s Proposed North Korea Deal
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(March 8, 2017) — Trump Administration officials were quick to address North Korea today with a statement which has been a a favorite for several administration — “all options are on the table.” Yet the rest of the official comments on North Korea made it clear this was not the case, with officials openly confirming they don’t consider diplomacy a “viable” option at all.
All of this is coming up today because China, which has been pushing the US and North Korea toward diplomacy for years, made a proposal that the US would halt its South Korea wargames in return for North Korea stopping development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. North Korea never had a chance to respond, because the US dismissed the idea out of hand more or less immediately.
South Korean officials jumped the gun and ruled the deal out even before the US did, insisting that the annual wargames, simulating a joint US-South Korean invasion of the north, are “purely defensive in nature,” and that trying to link them to North Korea’s program is “unacceptable.”
North Korea has insisted for years that its development of such weapons are a response to the ever-growing annual wargames, so while US and South Korean officials insist it is “unfair” for China to link the two, they are clearly not unrelated.
The problem, rather is that as with North Korea’s proposal to scrap its program for a peace deal ending the 1950s Korean War, the US government doesn’t want to make a deal, and remains comfortable with the status quo, which keeps large numbers of US troops deployed in the Korean Peninsula.
US Says ‘All Options on Table’ to Deal with North Korea
(March 8, 2017) — The United States has said “all options are on the table” to deal with North Korea.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after the United Nations Security Council discussed Pyongyang’s launch of four ballistic missiles on Monday.
“We are not dealing with a rational person,” said Haley. “It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of Kim Jong-un at this time.” She said the administration of US President Donald Trump was reevaluating how it would handle North Korea and that “all options were on the table”. “We are making those decisions now and we will act accordingly,” Haley said.
North Korea fired the missiles into the sea off Japan’s coast in response to the annual US-South Korea military drills, which Pyongyang sees as preparation for war.
According to the Kyodo News Agency, one of the missiles fell “closer than ever before” from the Japanese coast, around 200km northwest of the country’s Noto Peninsula.
Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said “it doesn’t appear there was that much movement” in the closed-door Security Council emergency meeting called by the US, Japan and South Korea.
“All parties came out and insisted that the sanctions already in place against North Korea must be fully enforced, the argument being that there is still some leeway with the enforcement of these sanctions,” he said.
Pyongyang has fired dozens of missiles and conducted two of its five nuclear tests in the past year in defiance of UN resolutions.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday the tests by the North and the joint drills across the border in South Korea were causing tension to increase like two “accelerating trains coming toward each other”. He suggested a “dual suspension” to allow all sides to return to negotiations.
“We have to see some sort of positive action taken by North Korea before we can ever take them seriously,” Haley said when asked about Beijing’s proposal. She said the drills had been held annually for 40 years and North Korea was always notified.
The US military on Tuesday started to deploy the first elements of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea, which China opposes. Diplomats said China raised the THAAD deployment during Wednesday’s closed-door UN meeting.
North Korea’s foreign ministry spokesman categorically rejected a Security Council statement that labeled what he called its “routine” ballistic missile launches a threat.
The spokesman reiterated that the US-South Korean exercises are pushing the situation “to the brink of a nuclear war” and the North was responding with “the self-defensive right of a sovereign state”.
US Rejects China’s Call to Halt Drills if North Korea Stops Tests
Edith M. Ledererâ€‰/ The Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (March 8, 2017) — The United States on Wednesday rejected China’s proposal for a halt to joint US-South Korean military exercises if North Korea suspends its nuclear and missile activities. It called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un irrational and demanded “positive action” before the US can take his regime seriously.
In Washington, US State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said, “At this point we don’t see it as a viable deal.” A Pentagon spokesman, Cmdr. Gary Ross, said US activities to defend South Korea “cannot be equated to North Korea’s repeated violations of its obligations and agreements.”
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told reporters after an emergency Security Council meeting on North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches that the United States must see “some sort of positive action” by Kim’s regime before discussing ways to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “They’ve given us enough reason to think how irresponsible that they are that we ever try and think that we’re dealing with a rational person on this,” she said.
Earlier Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed the freeze-for-freeze, likening escalating tensions between the North and Washington and Seoul to “two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way.”
The idea was rejected by South Korea and Japan as well as the US
Haley said the military drills are especially needed now after North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile launches last year and two sets of missile launches and the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s estranged brother using a chemical weapon this year.
She also defended the upcoming deployment of a US missile defense system in South Korea, a move that has been strongly opposed by China. She said America would not leave its ally facing the threat from North Korea without help.
“We have not seen any goodwill at all coming from North Korea,” Haley said. “I appreciate all my counterparts wanting to talk about talks and negotiations, (but) we are not dealing with a rational person.”
With any other country, the United States would be seeking negotiations, she said.
“This is not a rational person, who has not had rational acts, who is not thinking clearly,” Haley said of North Korea’s leader. “This is someone who is trying to get attention. This is someone who is trying to get a reaction.”
Haley said the United States is re-evaluating how it is going to deal with North Korea going forward “and we are making those decisions now and will act accordingly.”
“We’re not ruling anything out and we’re considering every option that’s on the table,” she said.
South Korean Ambassador Cho Tae-yul also rejected the idea of a North Korean nuclear freeze in exchange for halting US-South Korea military exercises, which he stressed are defensive in nature.
“Linking this exercise to anything else, which is illegal nuclear and missile provocation by North Korea, is inappropriate and unacceptable, and I think this is just trying to link the unlinkable,” he said.
“All kinds of options have been exhausted so far,” Cho said, “So the only available means to change the North Korean behavior fundamentally is to continue to keep up the pressure and sanctions on North Korea.”
Japan’s UN ambassador, Koro Bessho, said that “at the starting point we need some assurances they are serious about the denuclearization.”
“So Japan’s position is that it’s not freeze-for-freeze but it’s denuclearization that we’re looking for,” Bessho said.
But Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi warned that “if you look at … the development of events now on the Korean Peninsula there’s a real danger, there’s a real risk.”
The alternative to China’s proposal “would be escalation of tension, and the situation may get out of control,” he told The Associated Press and two other reporters.
“We should avoid any worsening of the situation, or still any conflict, any sparks triggering a larger-scale conflict or even war on the Korean Peninsula,” Liu said. “That’s not something that’s in the interest of anyone.”
He said implementing China’s proposal “shouldn’t be hard” if there is political will, but “it would take the agreement of all the sides to get this result.”
When asked whether China had a commitment from North Korea to freeze testing, he told the AP that “we have been talking to various parties concerned about this.”
Haley said talks are one option on the table for US consideration along with many others that she declined to specify. She said other Security Council members would also all be discussing with their capitals what to do next on North Korea.
Japan’s Bessho said three of the missiles launched Sunday night landed in his country’s exclusive economic zone where fishermen troll for squid. He said the North Korean military unit that conducted the launches is tasked with striking US military bases in Japan when necessary.
“This shows us they are serious in these aggressive actions,” Bessho said, calling the North’s actions “a serious matter for the whole world.” He welcomed the Security Council’s reaction late Tuesday, which was stronger than after previous launches.
The council strongly condemned the North’s missile tests, “increasingly destabilizing behavior” and defiance of the council’s resolutions. It said the missile activity increases tensions in the region and beyond, and risks a regional arms race.
The Security Council has already imposed six rounds of increasingly tougher sanctions on North Korea. It urged all countries to “redouble efforts” to implement them and warned of possible “further significant measures.”
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman on Wednesday categorically rejected the council statement that labeled what he called its “routine” ballistic missile launches a threat. The spokesman reiterated that the US-South Korean exercises are pushing the situation “to the brink of a nuclear war” and the North was responding with “the self-defensive right of a sovereign state.”
At the Security Council meeting, British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, the current council president, said members discussed “a potential role” for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in pursuing “a united council position,” but gave no details.
Speaking on behalf of Britain, Rycroft backed the US saying it’s “very important that the first step” come from North Korea to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization.
China’s Liu told the AP the Security Council must follow the situation closely “but it is key that the main players in the region refrain from doing anything that would exacerbate the current highly tense situation on the Korean Peninsula.”
Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report. Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.
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