In what is the strongest indication yet that the Trump administration is planning to take definitive action against North Korea for its continued threats and pursuit of nuclear weapons delivery systems, the president himself warned China if it would not deal with its belligerent neighbor, Washington would.
In an exclusive interview with the Financial Times, Trump said the U.S. “will take unilateral action to eliminate the nuclear threat from North Korea unless China increases pressure on the regime in Pyongyang,” the paper noted.
The ultimatum comes less than a week before Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. What to do about North Korea, as well as trade, is high on the list of discussions.
“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump said in the Oval Office, FT noted. “If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.” (RELATED: North Korea Could Kill 90% Of All Americans By Dropping EMP Nukes From Orbiting Satellites.)
Nevertheless, Trump was clear that the U.S. was ready and willing to act if China failed to step up and use its influence over Pyongyang to convince the reclusive Stalinist country to abandon its quest for nuclear-tipped ICBMs.
When asked if Trump would agree to a “grand bargain” where Beijing would apply pressure to its neighbor in exchange for the removal of U.S. troops from South Korea later on, Trump responded, “Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”
As noted by Zero Hedge, China already has taken some punitive action against North Korea over the latter’s continued testing of ballistic missiles. In February, Beijing banned all coal imports from Pyongyang, effectively depriving North Korea of a principal source of income, as nearly all its coal exports are sent to China.
But that doesn’t appear to be satisfactory for the Trump administration.
FT noted further that the administration views North Korea as the most important and imminent threat after being told by outgoing President Barack Obama that since he took office in 2009, the North has substantially increased its long-range missile technology and nuclear weapons. White House Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland told the FT, “there is a real possibility that North Korea will be able to hit the U.S. with a nuclear-armed missile by the end of the first Trump term.”
Recently the National Security Council completed a review of options regarding North Korea that Trump ordered shortly after his inauguration, two people familiar with the review told the FT. One of them also said that the review was hastened so it would be completed in time for Trump’s one-on-one with Xi.
When asked if the U.S. would need Chinese assistance to deal with North Korea, Trump insisted that wasn’t the case, saying it was “totally” possible to handle North Korea alone. When pressed he said, “I don’t have to say anymore. Totally.”
“What President Trump is trying to do here is press the Chinese hard by warning them what comes next if they don’t help or join with the U.S. to deal with this problem,” Dennis Wilder, a former CIA China analyst who served as President George W. Bush’s top White House Asia aide told the FT.
The administration has not ruled out a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, having said that all options are on the table. (RELATED: Is a preemptive strike against North Korea imminent?)
Trump’s comments come just days after Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both made clear the White House was growing impatient with North Korea’s ballistic missile tests. For his part, Tillerson – during a recent visit to South Korea and China – said further talks with North Korea would be a waste of time and non-productive, just as they’ve always been.
“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” he said, noting a pre-emptive strike would be considered if the North’s missile development reached an unacceptable level, The New York Times reported.
Mattis, at a conference in London, declared, “Right now, [North Korea] appears to be going in a very reckless manner … and that has got to be stopped,” NBC News noted.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.