Top US military officer warns North Korea 'we are ready'

Claudine Rigal
Août 20, 2017

There will be no war on the Korean peninsula, South Korean President Moon Jae-In said Thursday, saying Seoul effectively had a veto over U.S. military action in response to the North's nuclear and missile programmes.

"I don't think they were made with an absolute intention for a military action", Moon said.

"The people worked together to rebuild the country from the Korean War, and we can not lose everything again because of a war", Moon said in a nationally televised news conference. "So I want all South Koreans to believe with confidence that there will be no war".

North Korea's military had said last week it would finalize and send to Kim for approval the plan to fire four ballistic missiles near Guam, which is about 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from Pyongyang.

Trump threatened Pyongyang that it would be met with "fire and fury" if provoked, and also tweeted that the USA was "locked and loaded".

Tillerson and Mattis wrote in The Wall Street Journal that Washington has "no interest" in regime change in Pyongyang nor in accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula, and that "diplomacy is our preferred means" of changing the Democratic People's Republic of Korea'S (DPRK) course of action.

A top U.S. general says contentious military exercises with South Korea, due to start on Monday off the Korean peninsula, are not up for negotiation.

The president's tough talk on North Korea is simply sending a message that there will be consequences if North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un fails to choose a different path. Kim said that if the "planned fire of power demonstration" is carried out because of US recklessness, it will be "the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks", the North reported.

Last week China voted alongside a unanimous U.N. Security Council to impose strict new sanctions on Pyongyang in response to North Korea's launch of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month. "We are not closer to war than a week ago, but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago".

Not holding the exercises, Pinkston added, risks weakening "the capacity of the South Korean military and the USFK to respond to a variety of military contingencies" and could invite aggression.

Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself from possible invasion by its "imperialist enemy" the USA and has long sought to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

"If North Korea provokes again, it will face with much harsher sanction and won't stand it in the end". South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Lee Jin-woo said the drills, long a source of aggravation for Pyongyang, would go ahead as planned. Ultimately, prospects both for easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and for finding a fundamental solution will remain remote unless the USA and China cooperate.

Annual military drills involving tens of thousands of US and South Korean troops are due to begin on Monday.

In the past, China has been reluctant to deny resources to North Korea in order to pressure Pyongyang to curb its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Dunford said last month that it was "unimaginable" to allow North Korea to develop the capability to strike a USA city with a nuclear weapon.

The North's leader Kim Jong-Un said Tuesday he would "watch a little more" before making a decision on the Guam missile launch, a declaration Trump lauded as "very wise".

Moon, a left-leaning leader who has previously advocated dialogue with the North, urged it to "stop all provocations and hostile rhetoric immediately, instead of worsening the situation any further".

Kim and Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea.

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