On Sunday, US National Security Advisor, Lt. General H.R. McMaster, stated the United States needs to be prepared for military action against North Korea. This statement comes after North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test. U.S. officials have stated that North Korea tested, what is thought to be, a KN-17 mid-range missile on Friday. The missile blew up over land before reaching it’s target in the Sea of Japan. This makes the 3rd KN-17 missile test the North Koreans have conducted in the month of April. All three of the missile tests have failed, however, North Korea is barred by United Nations resolutions from carrying out ballistic missile tests.
General McMaster has stated that the missile launch was conducted in “open defiance” of the United States. He went on to say that U.S. patience is wearing thin and the conflict “will end soon one way or another”. McMaster also expressed his desire that the United States will partner with our allies in the region and enforce the UN sanctions that are in place. He went on to state, ‘ It may mean ratcheting up those sanctions even further and it also means being prepared for military operations if necessary.’ General McMaster expressed his confidence in President Trump by stating the President’s relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping may create a diplomatic Solution.
On Saturday, President Trump stated he would “not be happy” if North Korea conducted another missile test. The President has been holding his cards close to his chest and stated ” we shouldn’t be announcing all our moves.” The United States has ramped up its naval presence in the region. The USS Carl Vinson Battle Group and the USS Michigan (SSGN-727) have been deployed to the waters off the Korean Peninsula. U.S. Senator, John McCain has proposed creating a $6 billion fund to finance the build up of U.S. military capabilities in the region as a response to the mounting tensions.
On the diplomatic front, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has recently asked China to use their influence to convince North Korea to rethink their position. On Wednesday, May 3rd Tillerson said “We are preparing additional sanctions if it turns out North Korea’s actions warrant additional sanctions”. He has also said that the United States would be willing to use secondary sanctions against foreign companies whom continue to do business with Pyongyang. President Trump has hinted at opening up a one on one dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. However, the rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang does appear that this is a possibility.
One can argue that the United States and the world have ignored the growing North Korean problem for over twenty years. North Korea defied sanctions in the 1990s and succeeded in developing their own nuclear weapons. Since 2000 they have worked rapidly to develop a missile delivery system. Their land based ballistic missile tests have failed over the last few months. However, they have had some minor successes with submarine launched missiles. On February 12th of this year they successfully launched a solid-fueled ballistic missile from a submarine. On April 19th it was confirmed they have acquired an additional submersible test stand barge capable of conducting missile tests for submarines. The world can no longer afford to ignore North Korea.