North Korea says Syria airstrikes prove its nukes justified

Trevor Jackson
April 14, 2017

US Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham, in commenting on the repositioning of the carrier strike group to waters near North Korea, said, "The No 1 threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability".

AFP adds: US President Donald Trump ditched his trademark anti-China bombast, hailing an "outstanding" relationship with counterpart Xi Jinping at the end of a superpower summit Friday overshadowed by events in Syria.

"In terms of North Korea, we've been very clear that our objective is a denuclearized Korea peninsula", he said.

Hwang stressed the need to strengthen cooperation between the two allies at a time when there is a high likelihood of fresh provocations by the North. The report did not name the official, which is common in KCNA reports.

Trump has made reducing that deficit a priority for his own reasons, having campaigned on an platform of economic nationalism that blamed China for stealing American jobs. His remarks echoed Trump's declaration that he is ready to take on North Korea alone if China, its main enabler, does not cooperate.

The possibility of conducting a pre-emptive military strike on the North, highly worrisome for Seoul, has been considered taboo in the past. For Xi, who is entering a twice-a-decade Chinese Communist Party congress in the fall, the meeting with Trump was more about stabilizing the critical U.S.

On Sunday, a North Korean Foreign Ministry official was quoted on state-run media as vowing to step up the country's defenses to protect itself from airstrikes like the US carried out against Syria last week. Trump's predecessors had largely kept such disputes separate.

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For its part, the North test-launched a ballistic missile just ahead of the Trump-Xi meeting and has been rumored to be preparing for a possible nuclear test.

Some possible options Washington may be considering are tougher unilateral sanctions as well as secondary sanctions that would penalize a third country that does illegal business with North Korea, the redeployment of US tactical nuclear assets to Korea and even a pre-emptive strike. But a brief moment of reflection would show that, on balance, Xi could not have been displeased by Trump's volte-face on Syria.

"I don't have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don't change", Trump said Wednesday, a day after the chemical weapons attack in Syria that compelled him to order airstrikes against a government air base.

The two leaders were joined Thursday evening by US First Lady Melania Trump, a former model, and Peng Liyuan - a celebrated folk singer Trump hailed as a "great, great celebrity".

For those obsessed with score-keeping, determining which leader, Xi or Trump, has improved his bargaining position as the result of the summit is a tricky exercise.

"The best way to get China to cooperate with North Korea is to be tough on them with trade, which is the No. 1 thing China's government cares about", Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer of NY said.

Analysts say they think the chances of the report labeling China a currency manipulator are low.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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