US urges China to pressure North Korea to rein in weapons programs

A day after the US president said China’s efforts on North Korea had failed, his secretary of state has asked for Beijing’s help. The situation has been complicated by the death of a US student imprisoned by Pyongyang.

Watch video00:43

Trump says China should help more on NKorea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has urged China to help pressure North Korea to rein in its weapons programs.

“[China has a] diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region,” he said in Washington. Tillerson said North Korea was the “top security threat” to the US.

Tillerson made the comments at a press conference after high-level talks with Chinese officials at the State Department.

Read more: Trump ‘furious’ over Seoul’s North Korea ‘appeasement’

Read more: North Korea attempts to split South Korea-US security alliance

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis vowed at the same press conference to “continue to take necessary measures to defend ourselves and our allies” against North Korea, which is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US.

The meeting of top US and Chinese diplomats and defense chiefs came just a day after US President Donald Trump said China’s efforts to use its leverage with Pyongyang had failed.

On Tuesday, Trump posted a tweet suggesting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts were ineffective, a message he reiterated before supporters in Iowa.

While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!

“I do like President Xi,” he told the crowd Wednesday evening. “I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea, from China. That doesn’t seem to be working.”

Trump did not elaborate on what might happen next if China fails to rein in its ally.

Complicated position

Trump’s approach to North Korea was further complicated by the death of American university student Otto Warmbier earlier this week, after he was recently released in a comatose state 17 months after being jailed in Pyongyang.

Read more: Otto Warmbier, US student released from North Korea, dies

In Beijing, officials insisted they have not given up hope of influencing Pyongyang.

“To resolve the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, China has been making unremitting efforts and we have been playing an important and constructive role,” said Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman, while stressing China was not the “focus and the crux” of the crisis.

Tillerson said Trump would make a state visit to China later this year, and Mattis said both sides had agreed to expand military-to-military ties.

A US official said on Tuesday that spy satellites had detected new movements at North Korea’s nuclear test site, but it was unclear if Pyongyang was preparing for a sixth nuclear test.

aw/cmk (AFP, dpa)

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Tillerson says allies pleading with US to ‘improve Russia relations’ as Senate agrees new sanctions

Tillerson says allies pleading with US to ‘improve Russia relations’ as Senate agrees new sanctions
All of America’s allies and partners have been calling on Washington to improve its relations with Russia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged after the US Senate reached a bipartisan deal to boost sanctions against Moscow.

“I have yet to have a bilateral, one-on-one, a poolside conversation with a single counterpart in any country: in Europe, Middle East, even South-East Asia, that has not said to me: please, address your relationship with Russia, it has to be improved,” Tillerson said on Tuesday during testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Foreign Operations.

Tillerson added that the countries urging the US to review its Russian policy “believe worsening this relationship will ultimately worsen theirsituation.”

He added: “People have been imploring me to engage and try to improve the situation, so, that was our approach anyway.”

Earlier, Tillerson warned that the US Senate’s bipartisan deal on new set of restrictive measures against Moscow might further worsen relations with Russia and hinder existing efforts on joint US-Russia progress to fight terrorism in Syria.

There are efforts under way in Syria specifically, those are, I would say, progressing in a positive way,” America’s top diplomat said on Tuesday during testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Despite the relationship between US and Russia being “at an all-time low,” according to Tillerson, the “objective is to stabilize that” rather than deteriorate it further.

Washington is “engaged” and working with Moscow “in a couple of areas,” including on such issues of international importance as the Ukrainian and Syrian crises.

READ MORE: US changes tactics against ISIS, working on plan with ‘enthusiastic’ Russians

We have some channels that are open, where we are starting to talk, and I think what I wouldn’t want to do is close the channels off,” Tillerson told the Senate committee, warning that to establish “something new… will take time.”

Joint efforts in fighting the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group in the Middle East have topped the agenda during Tillerson’s visit to Moscow this year. Tillerson’s counterpart, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, also discussed the issue with President Trump during their White House meeting.

Meanwhile, the US and Russian military have been maintaining multiple communication channels to “deconflict” operations in Syria, according to Pentagon officials.

Trump-Lavrov meeting focused on Syria safe zones & need to expand it nationwide https://on.rt.com/8bod 

Photo published for Trump-Lavrov meeting focused on Syria safe zones & need to expand them nationwide — RT News

Trump-Lavrov meeting focused on Syria safe zones & need to expand them nationwide — RT News

The issue of establishing and expanding Syria’s de-escalation zones dominated last week’s Lavrov-Trump discussions in the Oval office, the Russian FM has revealed, emphasizing that these safe zones…

rt.com

Confronted by Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), who has been a harsh critic of Moscow, about “Russia sanctions that have been agreed to in a bipartisan fashion,” Tillerson said that he would prefer to have “flexibility” in relations with the Kremlin. He had already had discussions on the topic with members of the Senate “who have called to inquire,” he added.

US senators, both Republicans and Democrats among them, agreed on new restrictive measures against Russia on Tuesday. Citing alleged Russia’s “interference” in the 2016 presidential election in the US, as well as the situations in Crimea and in Syria, the senators say they want new sanctions imposed on Moscow. The vote is reportedly set to take place Thursday.

US President Donald Trump calls on Qatar to cease its role as “funder of terrorism”

The US President has called on Qatar to “do more” to cut off its support for terrorism. Secretary of State Tillerson also said sanctions are impacting the US-led coalition against the so-called “Islamic State.”

USA Trump zieht die USA vom Pariser Klimaabkommen zurück (Reuters/K. Lamarque)

“The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” President Trump said at a White House press conference on Friday before calling on the Gulf emirate to “end that funding.”

“For Qatar, we want you back among the unity of responsible nations,” Trump said.

The president did not limit his call for greater action against terrorism to Qatar alone but instead urged “Qatar and other nations in the region to do more to combat terrorism and do it faster.”

“Stop funding, stop teaching hate and stop the killing,” he added.

The president’s words are a strong claim against Qatar, a key US military ally that has consistently denied allegations of its support for terror organizations.

Last month, President Trump traveled to the Middle East where he met with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia. The president has claimed that his conversations there pushed him to call out Qatar.

Read: Is Trump fueling tension in the Middle East?

USA Rex Tillerson (Getty Images/AFP/M. Ngan)Trump has tapped Tillerson to de-escalate the Gulf crisis.

Trump trails Tillerson

Trump’s press conference came on the heels of a similar statement made by his US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US State Department.

“We call on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar,” Secretary Tillerson said in a brief statement to reporters on Friday.

He also added that the blockade was causing “unintended consequences, especially during the holy month of Ramadan” and listed food shortages, the separation of family members, and the withdrawal of children from school as examples.

Qatar receives much of its food across the now-closed land border with Saudi Arabia.

Read: Qatar seeks dialogue as flight bans, food shortages hit

In addition to the humanitarian consequences, Tillerson stated that the blockade was hurting the fight against the so-called “Islamic State” and other violent extremist movements in the region.

“The blockade is hindering US military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS,” Tillerson said, using a common American acronym for the group.

Secretary Tillerson: GCC must emerge united & stronger to show the word the GCC’s resolve in its fight against violence & terrorism.

The United States’ biggest air base in the Middle East is at Udeid air base in Qatar, which also hosts the Qatari air force and other coalition troops. Udeid hosts more than 10,000 personnel from US and coalition forces, as well as more than 100 aircraft that are used in allied military operations in Iraq, Syria and other areas in the region.

Karte Countries that severed ties with Qatar ENGThe blockade of Qatar is the Gulf region’s largest diplomatic crisis in recent years

Qatar ‘must do more’

Tillerson’s statement also addressedthe “terror list” released by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain earlier in the day that included members of the Qatari royal family, as well as Qatar charity organizations.

“We call on Qatar to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors,” he said.

While acknowledging that Qatar  had “made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorists” from within its border, Tillerson noted that the small but wealthy country has supported a wide variety of political groups, from activist to violent ones, and he urged Qatari leaders to increase their efforts.

Read: from Saudi Arabia to Iran to Qatar – is the crisis really about terrorism?

“The emir of Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorists from his country, but he must do more and he must do it more quickly,” the secretary said.

Tillerson said that a resolution was possible through “calm and thoughtful dialogue” and noted the US’ support for the neutral Kuwait to mediate in the crisis.

Read: Germany turns down mediator role but calls for diplomacy

“Our expectation is that these countries will immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation and put forth a good faith effort to resolve their grievances they have with each other,” Tillerson said.

Just days earlier, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Yemen and Mauritania cut diplomatic ties, suspended transport and closed their borders with Qatar after alleging the emirate supported regional terror groups. The Gulf countries have accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorist activities in Syria and Yemen. Qatar has denied all allegations.

Watch video01:36

Qatari foreign minister visits Berlin

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ISIS claims responsibility for deadly attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt

Islamic State terrorists have claimed responsibility for an attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt that killed at least 29 and injured over 20 more on Friday. The attack prompted Egypt to launch airstrikes on “terrorist camps” in eastern Libya.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement published by the terrorist group on Saturday.

Gunmen opened fire on two buses and a truck with Coptic Christians inside in Minya, Egypt on Friday.

The shooting, which occurred on the eve of Ramadan, happened as the victims were traveling from Beni Suef Province to the Coptic Orthodox Anba Samuel Monastery near the southern city of Minya, 250km (155 miles) south of Cairo.

READ MORE: Egypt strikes ‘terrorist camps’ in Libya in response to attack on Coptic Christians (VIDEO)

Following the attack, Egypt launched retaliatory strikes on militant positions in Derna, Libya late Friday. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi said that the strikes would reach the terrorists regardless of their location, adding that they would target a terrorist camp they had allegedly come from.

“Egypt will not hesitate in striking any camps that harbor or train terrorist elements whether inside Egypt or outside Egypt,” al-Ahram news agency cited Sisi as saying.

Egyptian Air Forces completely destroyed all the planned terrorist targets with the day and night strikes, the military said in a statement on Saturday.

Egypt’s air strikes in Libya constitute the nation’s inherent right to self-defense, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his US counterpart, Rex Tillerson, in a phone conversation. Shoukry added that Egypt possesses evidence which indicates that the terrorists involved in the Friday attack had trained in the camps, TASS news agency quotes an Egyptian Foreign Ministry communique as saying. Tillerson called the minister on Saturday to express his condolences.

Theresa May tells G7 summit leaders: Stop jihadis before they bring their terror home

Theresa May: We must stop terrorists spreading their hate online

01:35

British jihadis who go to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isil must be stopped and brought to justice in other countries before they can get back to the UK, Theresa May has told the G7 summit.

The Prime Minister wants G7 countries, including Britain, to share information and expertise with countries including Iraq so they can “prosecute any foreign fighters they capture”.

Theresa May talks with Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Taormina, Italy
Theresa May talks with Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Taormina, Italy CREDIT: LUCA BRUNO/AP PHOTO
At least 800 British extremists have travelled to the Middle East to fight with Isil, and around half of them are thought to have returned, posing a huge terrorist threat on home soil.

Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi is among those known to have travelled abroad, where he may have received training in bomb-making before he detonated a device that killed 22 people earlier this week.

Leaders of G7 nations gather in Italy

00:59

Mrs May is desperate to prevent jihadis returning to the UK, and proposed a series of steps to G7 leaders as she led talks on counter-terrorism at the summit in Sicily today.

Mrs May proposed:

  • Sharing the identities of foreign fighters who may pass through third countries on the way back to their countries of origin
  • Sharing expertise on policing, border security and watch-lists with transit countries
  • Providing training and resourcing to legal experts and police in Iraq and other countries to help them prosecute, extradite or deport foreign fighters
  • Sharing data on foreign fighters, such as names and nationalities, so they can be spotted as they cross borders
  • Encouraging countries to pass on evidence such as videos or documents to the British authorities to help prosecute them if they make it back to Britain

Mrs May gave the example of Aine Davis, a Londoner arrested in 2015 near Istanbul who was suspected of presiding over beheadings carried out by the Briton known as Jihadi John.

He was found guilty of being a senior member of a terrorist organisation and jailed for seven-and-a-half years by a Turkish court. His trial heard how he had been tracked by Turkish police and intelligence officials days after being smuggled out of Syria by Isil.

Theresa May will make intelligence issue ‘clear to President Trump’

01:40

Under Mrs May’s proposals, other countries would follow Turkey’s example.

The Prime Minister said: “It is vital we do more to cooperate with our partners in the region to step up returns and prosecutions of foreign fighters.

“This means improving intelligence-sharing, evidence gathering and bolstering countries’ police and legal processes.”

Meanwhile, British police have resumed “working closely” with US authorities in the investigation into the Manchester bombing after a tense showdown between the allies over leaked intelligence – including photographs from the scene of the attack.

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a news conference in the Sicilian town of Taormina, Italy
Theresa May demanded G7 countries share expertise to stop jihadis returning home and wreaking havoc CREDIT: LUCA BRUNO/AP

After Mrs May warned the row risked hampering relations with the UK, the US Secretary of State said that America took “full responsibility” for and “regrets” the leaking of information.

Rex Tillerson made the apology on a snap visit to London, where he met Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in Downing Street.

Mr Tillerson said: “This special relationship that exists between our two countries will certainly withstand this particular unfortunate event.”

Properties raided by police in Moss Side

01:28

Counter-terror police investigating the suicide attack carried out fresh raids on Friday, as security services were warned of more attacks during Ramadan.

Islamic State called on its followers to rise up in an “all-out war” on “infidels” in the West during the Muslim holy month, which begins tomorrow.

Saturday marks the start of a 30-day period of fasting and reflection in the Islamic world, which has in recent years seen a large increase in terror attacks.

As detectives revealed the youngest man in custody over the Manchester attack is 18, early-hours searches were on Friday launched at a Manchester barbershop and a takeaway on Merseyside.

Officers who earlier raided terrorist Salman Abedi’s home discovered a working bomb factory with a huge stash of explosive chemicals and other components.

Putin-Trump meeting must bring specific results, not just symbolic handshake – Lavrov

Putin-Trump meeting must bring specific results, not just symbolic handshake – Lavrov
The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump must be well prepared in order for the first eye-to-eye talks of the Russian and US presidents to bring concrete results, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“As far as I understand, both Washington and Moscow need this meeting not for the sake of impressing somebody and saying: ‘Here’s a sensation. It was prepared for such a long time and now it happened,” Lavrov said in an interview with Mir-24 TV.

According to the Russian FM, the meeting between Putin and Trump is needed for something more than a handshake and an exchange of opinions on bilateral relations and international issues. This stance is shared by both Moscow and Washington, he added.

“Russia and the US have such strong impact on international stability and security that such a meeting will undoubtedly be expected to deliver specific results. In order for that to be achieved, it needs to be prepared thoroughly. We are working on that right now,” he said.

The Russian foreign minister stressed that Moscow isn’t paying much attention to contradictory statements on bilateral relations coming from various American officials, which may be explained by members of the new administration “not yet fully adjusting to each other.”

“We usually focus on the main character in the drama – US President Donald Trump, who highly appreciated [US Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson’s visit to Moscow as well as his own telephone conversation with President Putin, in which he expressed his intention to continue developing efforts to promote common interests in our relations,” Lavrov said.

Putin and Trump talked on the phone Tuesday, discussing the prospects of coordinated anti-terrorism activities in Syria and the situation around North Korea, among other issues.

Putin, Trump speak by phone, discuss Syria, N. Korea – Kremlin

The two leaders also spoke in favor of holding their much anticipated first meeting somewhere around the G20 summit, which is scheduled to take place in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7 and 8.

Tillerson visited Russia on April 12 and held talks with both Lavrov and Putin, with Trump saying the secretary of state had done “tremendous work” in Moscow.

In late April, Putin noted that Trump had so far failed to make good on his campaign promises to mend relations with Russia, adding that the level of trust between Moscow and Washington has even “degraded” since Obama left office.

The White House, for its part, recently called “the isolation of Russia in the UN” one of Trump’s main achievements during his first 100 days in office.

In his interview with Mir-24, Lavrov also touched on the issue of the EU sanctions imposed on Russia after it reunited with Crimea and the breakout of the Ukrainian conflict back in 2014.

He stressed that Russia is not in the habit of interfering in the affairs of other nations, and because of that it is not pushing for the removal of restrictions, which put politics above the economic needs of the people and whole countries in Europe.

READ MORE: Trump does opposite to what Obama did, Russia must teach him how to act in Syria – ex-US diplomat

“But the tendency toward giving up on this anomaly (sanctions) is, in my opinion, becoming stronger” within the EU, the top Russian diplomat said.

Lavrov again stressed that Russia is eager to resume dialogue with the US-led NATO military bloc, but it should be done on the basis of equality.

The development strategy of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, “doesn’t mention that any country or state or organization is our adversary. In contrast, NATO members regard Russia as an enemy or even a threat and attempt to downplay the status and the importance of CSTO activities,” he explained.

READ MORE: ‘Wishful thinking’: Kremlin dismisses reports of Putin-Trump meeting in May

The FM said that NATO’s “project of full absorption of Ukraine into its sphere of interest and including Ukraine into the North Atlantic Alliance, the inclusion of Crimea into their plans of encircling Russia – those plans have failed.”

He expressed regret that “because of an offense over an objective historic fact, they froze everything that united us, including the anti-terrorism battle.”

Is a second Korean War imminent?

A military build-up, bellicose rhetoric and the risk of nuclear war are ratcheting up tensions in Northeast Asia. The US is tied in a strategic knot and N. Korea is not backing down as diplomacy and deterrence collide.

USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier in the South China Sea (Reuters/US Navy/M. Brown)

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US begins deployment of controversial Korean THAAD missile system

North Koreans in Japan sense growing hostility

There are storm clouds gathering over the Korean peninsula. Whether it is the belligerent statements from the regime in Pyongyang, windy bravado from the Trump administration or regular missile tests and naval drills, there is concern around the world that a tipping point is about to be reached.

US Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech last week aboard the carrier USS Ronald Reagan docked in Japan and said “the sword stands ready” when warning North Korea not to test US military resolve, adding that the US would respond with “overwhelming force” if attacked.

A few days later in response to US-Japanese naval drills in the Philippine Sea, the North Korean regime’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said “our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike.”

After it was announced that the same USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group would set sail to the waters off the coast of the Korean peninsula, North Korea responded by saying the deployment was “an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war.”

The Vinson will join the USS Michigan, a submarine equipped with up to 144 Tomahawk missiles, which arrived at the South Korean port of Busan on Tuesday.

Karte Nordkorea Punggye-ri Englisch

A deadly game of risk

So far, the latest tensions have yet to break the status quo, but there is a growing new flashpoint in the region that cannot be underestimated. North Korea’s military capability is incrementally getting stronger and there is no sign that the regime will change the aggressive posturing that it sees as necessary to its survival.

On Tuesday, the North Korean military celebrated its 85th anniversary with a massive display of firepower. According to North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, it was the country’s “largest ever” live-fire drill involving more than 300 large-caliber artillery pieces and submarine torpedo attacks on mock warships. KCNA said the drill demonstrated the regime’s will to “pour a merciless rain of fire on the reckless imperialist US and its dirty followers.”

Adding pressure is a more aggressive and provocative US foreign policy stance under President Trump, who said in an interview last month that the US would act unilaterally if necessary against North Korea. He also insinuated that preemptive military action was an option to counter Pyongyang’s production of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the US.

Watch video01:31

US installs THAAD amid rising tensions

“The difference between Trump and Kim Jong Un is that Trump has no larger plan regarding North Korea and no nuanced view of when, how, why or how long military force is useful or effective,” Katharine Moon, Chair of Korea Studies at the Brookings Institution, told DW.

“Kim has a larger plan, regime survival, maintenance of national pride, and resistance to US power. Trump changes his mind regularly; Kim does not,” she added.

“People have put blindfolds on for decades, and now it’s time to solve the problem,” said President Trump at a meeting Monday with UN Security Council ambassadors during a discussion on new North Korean sanctions.

On Wednesday, the US announced that it was installing the controversial THAAD missile defense system at deployment sites located south of Seoul. Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC, the top US commander in the Asia-Pacific, Admiral Harry Harris said that the system would be operational in a few days.

In response to the threatening statements from Pyongyang, Harris also said that North Korea didn’t have a weapon that could threaten the Vinson battle group. “If it flies, it will die,” he said, referring to an attack on US warships.

North Korea’s Defense Minister Pak Yong Sik said Monday during a “national meeting” in Pyongyang attended by thousands of officials that the country would use preemptive strikes to defend itself.

More strategic patience will be needed

Südkorea - Militärübung (picture-alliance/AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)A South Korean tank fires during joint military drills with the US on Tuesday

Despite threats of force, there are major limits for the US to acting preemptively when millions of people around Seoul are in range of conventional North Korean artillery, which is a simple, yet effective weapon.

“North Korea’s artillery could inflict significant damage on Seoul,” Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association in Washington, told DW. “The country possesses a number of systems that are concentrated along the DMZ. Estimates put the number of artillery pieces at more than 11,000.”

Davenport added that although the systems are aging and have a high failure rate, some could reach Seoul. Specifically, 300 mm multiple launch rocket systems can fire into the center of the capital. According to the US strategy think tank Stratfor, if every one of these were fired, a single volley could “deliver more than 350 metric tons of explosives across the South Korean capital, roughly the same amount of ordnance dropped by 11 B-52 bombers.”

“Pyongyang doesn’t need sophisticated new weapons to confront us with the sort of risk no one will be eager to take; their old ones still work just fine,” John Schilling from the North Korea think tank 38 North wrote in a recent report.

A new kind of diplomacy?

Nordkorea Militärübung Jubiläum KPA (Reuters/KCNA)The North Korean military celebrated its 85th anniversary with a massive display of firepower.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday to discuss imposing further sanctions on North Korea. But most experts agree that the current diplomatic approach has failed miserably.

And amid the brave talk over the past week from Trump and Pence, action from the US resembles the same strategy of containment, diplomatic pressure and sanctions that have been the hallmarks of staggered US policy on North Korea for decades.

Moon said an untried strategy would be to isolate the regime with diplomatic sanctions and mobilize the General Assembly of the UN to suspend North Korea’s participation, which would restrict its access and importance.

“The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Trump told the UN Security Council ambassadors on Monday.

On Wednesday, Trump addressed the entire US Senate at an unprecedented meeting on North Korea at the White House and said the administration would be relying on Chinese economic leverage to pressure North Korea. On the same day, it was announced that the US would be tightening sanctions on Pyongyang.

“US military buildup so far is not part of a larger strategy, so it’s not clear what the end game is for the US,” said Moon, adding that the stated aim is to force North Korea to give up its nuclear program through military and economic pressure.

“That was the same ultimate goal for the administrations of George W. Bush, Obama, and now Trump,” said Moon. “The Carl Vinson strike group cannot stay at the DPRK’s doorstep indefinitely.”

Satellite imagery of North Korea’s nuclear test sites analyzed earlier this month by 38 North concluded that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site “appears able to conduct a sixth nuclear test at any time once the order is received from Pyongyang.”

For the time being, the Korean knot remains firmly tied.

Watch video02:13

North Korea marks military anniversary

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