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article imageNew options for Trump as he meets South Korean leader

By Ken Hanly     Jul 1, 2017 in World
Washington - CNN reports that revised US military options have been prepared for President Trump according to two US military officials.
The options will be presented to Trump if the North conducts an underground nuclear test or a ballistic missile test which indicates that the regime has made significant progress towards developing weapons that could reach the US according to the officials. The US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also confirmed the options had already been prepared: "What we have to do is prepare all options because the President has made clear to us that he will not accept a nuclear power in North Korea and a threat that can target the United States and target the American population. The threat is much more immediate now. We can't repeat the same failed approach of the past," McMaster said. The President has directed us to not do that and to prepare a range of options, including a military option, which nobody wants to take." The new South Korean president Moon Jae-in has been meeting with President Trump. McMaster said that the two would discuss a new approach to the North. McMaster said that there was recognition that there needed to be more pressure on the regime and that one would see that happen in coming days and weeks.
A joint statement just released starts by affirming the defense of the Republic of Korea(ROK) through the US-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty. In a provocative statement Trump said that the US was committed to extend deterrence to the ROK " drawing on the full range of U.S. military capabilities, both conventional and nuclear." The mention of the possible use of nuclear weapons is surely provocative to put it mildly. The US has about 28,000 troops in South Korea at present.
The THAAD anti-missile system is not mentioned. The US deployed the system before Moon was elected. He had opposed it as had China and Russia. After Moon was elected, the US was planning to install more of the THAAD systems but Moon suspended this until after the results of a probe. However, the statement does say: "The ROK will continue to acquire the critical military capabilities necessary to lead the combined defense, and detect, disrupt, destroy, and defend against North Korean nuclear and missile threats, including through interoperable Kill-Chain, Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), and other Alliance systems." Trump was apparently angered by Moon's suspension of further deployments. By including "other Alliance systems" Trump can claim that Moon is committed to deployment of more THAAD systems.
The two leaders agreed to coordinate closely to achieve a complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearlization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner. This is said at the same time as the options being presented to Trump include a military option. The statement expresses agreement on reactions to the North's weapon's programs: "The two leaders called on North Korea to refrain from provocative, destabilizing actions and rhetoric, and to make the strategic choice to fulfill its international obligations and commitments. The two leaders affirmed that North Korea’s nuclear tests and unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests constitute direct violations of multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) and highlight the accelerating threat its programs pose to international peace and security. " Of course the US , Russia, China, and others having nuclear weapons and far more advanced missile programs are no threat to international peace and security. Even Israel can have nuclear bombs which it developed in spite of international condemnation at the time In December of 2006: Iran demanded Tuesday that the UN Security Council condemn what it said was Israel's clandestine development and possession of nuclear weapons and "compel" Israel to abandon its nuclear arms and place all its nuclear facilities under UN inspection. If Israel refused to comply, Iran said, the council must take "resolute action" under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorizes a range of measures from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military action. Iran's demands went nowhere of course since Israel's powerful supporters did not want them to.
The two leaders said that sanctions are actually a tool of diplomacy and that the door was always open for dialogue with North Korea under the right circumstances. Sanctions are hardly a form of diplomacy since they use coercion as a way of forcing consent not negotiation. Perhaps war is just another means of diplomacy but using violence and force. Some time ago, Trump made waves by saying he would be honoured to meet Kim Jong-Un under the right circumstances and even praising Kim to some extent. While the circumstances were never made clear there are certain demands the Trump administration has made: "Trump did not make clear what preconditions would have to be met for such a meeting to occur, but his administration has demanded a freeze on nuclear and long-range missile tests as well as a readiness to negotiate North Korea’s complete nuclear disarmament. " Trump made it clear that circumstances at present were not suitalble for talks.
The joint statement said that neither the US nor the ROK maintained a hostile policy towards the North and could offer North Korea a better future "if it choose the right path". Given that the ROK and the US carry out joint exercises that even have involved scenarios akin to invasion of the North and that the US has moved two aircraft carriers to the area to show force, and given also that the US and ROK have supported harsh sanctions against the North, Kim Jong-un may not agree that the US and ROK have no hostile policy to it. What the two are saying is that if the North would do what the two want then they might actually try to help the North.
Unlike Trump who insists the earlier policy of the US of strategic patience did not work and must be superceded, Moon is in favor of dialogue with the North. The statement says that President Trump supports Moon's moves including attempts to deal with humanitarian issues. The statement also emphasized the importance of developing US-ROK-Japan trilateral relations. The two agreed to discuss furthering cooperation at the G20 meeting in July. Moon invited Trump to visit the ROK this year. Trump accepted the invistation. Perhaps he will face protests and the visit will be called off as has his visit to the UK.
One of the issues that the two leaders discussed, was the 2012 bilateral free trade agreement which Trump demands be renegotiated. South Korea has a trade surplus of $17 billion with the US. Trump wants barriers to the export of US goods to the South to be removed. Speaking alongside Moon in the Oval Office Trump said: "We are renegotiating a trade deal right now as we speak with South Korea and hopefully it will be an equitable deal, it will be a fair deal for both parties. We want something that will be very good for the American worker." On the surface at least, Moon appears to have achieved little and has decided to downplay any disagreements with Trump.
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