Korean official blames Trump for region's 'vicious cycle'

Posted April 14, 2017

Wang was speaking at a joint media briefing with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives for the official opening of the Ryomyong residential area, Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The moves are seen as an implicit warning to North Korea that Washington is not afraid to use force.

Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is "more vicious and more aggressive" than that of Barack Obama.

This year's joint war games between the US and South Korean militaries are the biggest so far - the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier has been diverted back to the waters off Korea after heading for Australia, and USA satellite imagery suggests the North could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time. Pyongyang, meanwhile, recently launched a ballistic missile and some experts say it could conduct another nuclear test at virtually anytime.

Many North Korea watchers believe North Korea could have a viable nuclear warhead and a ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland on Trump's watch as president - within the next few years. Expectations are high the North may put its newest missiles on display during Saturday's parade.

A White House foreign policy advisor said Friday that the USA is assessing military options in response to the North's weapons programs, saying another provocative test was a question of "when" rather than "if". Washington and Seoul deny that, but reports that exercises have included "decapitation strikes" aimed at the North's leadership have fanned Pyongyang's anger.

With President Donald Trump's administration not ruling out a military option to dealing with North Korea, "tension is certainly rising", Abe said Wednesday to a group of lawmakers from his ruling party who sought increased safety measures for Japanese nationals in case of an emergency.

Any US strike on North Korea could prompt retaliation against allies or US forces in South Korea or Japan.

"Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words", Han said.

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Japan, under its postwar constitution, has limited the role of its military to self-defense only and relied on the US for offensive and nuclear capability. North Korea's official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Han dismissed the suggestion Trump made a year ago during his presidential campaign that he was willing to meet Kim Jong Un, possibly over hamburgers.

In February, North Korea fired test missiles into the Sea of Japan while Abe was in the U.S. meeting with Trump. "We've got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a USA pre-emptive strike". That, in turn, has reduced US defense officials' options about how to respond to the North Korean threat, Pompeo added during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

How much such comments are bluster, or how realistic they are, is hard to gauge.

In a separate comment earlier Thursday, however, Trump said the United States is prepared to tackle the North Korean crisis without China, if necessary.

"Lately, tensions have risen. and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment", Wang said.

"That is something that our headquarters decides", Han said of what would be North Korea's sixth nuclear test.

The trip will aim to deliver China's stance on the North's nuclear and missile programs in an effort to dissuade it from engaging in any additional provocations, it added.

Trump also flexed his military muscle last week by ordering cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase the U.S. believed was the origin of a chemical weapons attack on civilians in a northern Syria town.