WASHINGTON: Donald Trump’s administration ramped up the pressure on North Korea on Sunday ahead of a week of high-stakes diplomacy at the United Nations, warning Pyongyang will be “destroyed” if it refuses to end its “reckless” nuclear and ballistic missile drive, reports AFP.
With US officials and their allies scrambling to find ways to contain an increasingly belligerent Pyongyang, the US president will address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday and then confer Thursday with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting.
Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In spoke by phone Saturday night and pledged “stronger pressure” on Kim Jong-Un’s regime, the South’s presidential office said, adding that the North must be made to realize that “further provocation” would put it on a “path of collapse.”
The Security Council last Monday imposed a new raft of sanctions on North Korea—but their impact depends largely on whether China, Pyongyang’s ally and main economic partner, will fully implement them and on Russia, which is hosting tens of thousands of North Korean workers.
Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, kept up the rhetorical pressure ahead of the upcoming meetings in New York, asserting that if the North should pose a serious threat to the US or its allies, “North Korea will be destroyed.”
Trump’s earlier warning he would rain “fire and fury” on a recalcitrant North Korea, she said, was “not an empty threat.”
“None of us want war,” Haley added in an interview on CNN. “We wanted to be responsible and go to all diplomatic means to get their attention first. If that doesn’t work, General Mattis”—the US defense secretary—“will take care of it.”
As the US and its allies emphasize the diplomatic track, South Korea is also deploying a state-of-the-art US missile defense system. In their latest call, the White House said Trump and Moon had committed to “take steps to strengthen deterrence and defense capabilities” of South Korea, offering no details of how it might do so.