JOSEPH DIBACCO ’19
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have reached a consensus that China is in a better position than the United States to handle the tense situation in North Korea. This idea came in light of the failed missile launch by North Korea on Sunday. The thinking is that if China cuts off all of its economic ties to North Korea, the country will lack the capital necessary to continue its nuclear operations.
According to Senator John McCain of Arizona, China controls the destiny of North Korea’s economy, given the scope of transactions the two nations engage in. China therefore has the power to hinder North Korea’s advances in nuclear weaponry.
During these negotiations with China, President Trump has reversed his beliefs on China, a country he called a currency manipulator during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump, however, has received public support from leading Democrats who concurrently advise approaching the delicate negotiation process with the utmost precaution. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont reiterated that, “The key to this situation… is dealing with China.” Evidently, there is a general bipartisan agreement that China is the key go-between in this sensitive situation involving North Korea. The United States cannot act unilaterally in this process.
Edward Royce, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, believes that North Korea could one day be in possession of weapons that could harm the entirety of the United States. “They will be closely, in the not-too-distant future, in a position where they can hit all 50 states in the United States with an ICBM,” Royce said. An ICBM is an inter-continental ballistic missile.
Earlier today, Vice President Pence visited Camp Bonifas, a military base near the Demilitarized Zone that separates North Korea and South Korea. He met with military leaders there as well as U.S. troops on the ground as part of a 10-day Asia trip.
President Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said in an interview that the goal of the United States is to handle the situation in North Korea peacefully, without ever having to utilize our military. The official mantra of the policy decided on reads, “maximum pressure and engagement.” The pressure will be placed on Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Pence will be meeting with leaders of both South Korea and Japan to explain the policy to them, as well as assure them that the United States will protect them from any nuclear operations launched by North Korea in the future.
U.S. military officials say that the United States will not dignify North Korea’s failed missile launch with a response. That being said, President Trump tweeted that, “Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before,” to reassure the American people that our armed forces are poised for action if the situation shall escalate.
It is possible that recent U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises provoked the North Korean missile launch. United States and South Korean troops and tanks were deployed in the last month, possibly leading North Korea to attempt to showcase its nuclear arsenal.
A foreign policy advisor on the Asia trip with Pence said that the missile launched by North Korea exploded just 4-5 seconds after it was launched. Experts believe that North Korea will conduct further nuclear tests in the near future.