Trump Gets Serious About North Korea Threat, But China’s Not Pleased

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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President-elect Donald Trump insists that North Korea will not develop long-range nuclear missiles with ranges capable of holding American cities hostage.

“We have reached the final stage of preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile,” North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un said Sunday during his New Year’s address.

Over the past decade, North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous ballistic missile tests, but an ICBM test would constitute a previously-unseen level of provocation from North Korea.

Trump’s response: “It won’t happen!”

Trump requested a special classified intelligence briefing for the first time Monday, and the focus was North Korea, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Reuters.

The Obama administration warned Trump that a North Korea will be a top national security threat, the Wall Street Journal revealed in late November.

President Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” has failed to curb the North Korean nuclear threat, leaving behind a challenge for the next administration.

“Washington’s hope for North Korea’s denuclearization is an outdated illusion,” the state-sponsored North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun wrote in November, “The only accomplishment of the Obama administration is that it is leaving behind for the new administration coming next year the burden of having to deal with a strong nuclear power.”

“For all the people on his national security team, Trump has just made this a number-one issue,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the Wall Street Journal.

Trump blasted Beijing in a separate tweet for not putting pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear weapons programs.

Trump’s comments reflect his previous statements on China with regard to North Korea.

“Look at North Korea, we’re doing nothing there … China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea,” Trump said during the first debate, noting that China uses “our country as a piggy bank.”

Critics argue that while China has publicly reprimanded North Korea for its illegal actions, it has done little to pressure Pyongyang to pursue an alternate course.

“Trump’s tweets reflect his twisted view of North Korea’s nuclear issue which holds that China is to blame for North Korea’s reluctance to give up its nuclear ambitions,” China’s Global Times commented, “Trump should not try to boss China around.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that China’s contributions to peace on the Korean Peninsula are “clear for all to see.”

“China has made great efforts to resolve the nuclear issue on the Peninsula,” said MFA spokesman Geng Shuang. “China’s position on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is consistent and clear. We insist on the denuclearization of the peninsula to maintain peace and stability, and we hope to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation.”

South Korea expressed praise for Trump’s comments, stating that Trump had issued a “clear warning” to North Korea.

Trump is “clearly aware of the gravity and urgency of the North Korean nuclear threat,” South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck announced during a press briefing. He is “maintaining an unwavering stance on the need for sanctions on North Korea and for close cooperation between South Korea and the U.S.”

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