The leaders of the United States and North Korea are engaged in a dangerous war of words.
President Donald Trump has said he would like to solve the North Korea crisis diplomatically and praised the efforts of the Chinese president to resolve the dispute, but warned that a “major, major conflict,” is possible.
The Trump administration is demanding that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons.
North Korea says it needs nuclear weapons because of the “hostile” policy of the U.S. toward it, and has threatened nuclear strikes if there is war.
The United Nations Security Council met Friday to discuss the conflict.
At the U.N. meeting, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for increased pressure on North Korea and said the United States is ready to take military action if necessary. North Korea has complained that the Security Council rejected its request last month to discuss the U.S.-South Korea military exercises it says are a rehearsal for invasion.
The United States called for new sanctions on North Korea and threatened to punish international companies doing banned business with the nation’s nuclear and missile programs. Doing nothing could be “catastrophic,” Tillerson told a special U.N. Security Council session he chaired.
Amid council members’ warning about the potential for conflict, Tillerson urged tougher action from China, North Korea’s main trading partner. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi countered that a solution doesn’t lie with Beijing and suggested resuming a long-stalled dialogue with North Korea.
Tillerson raised the possibility of counteracting “North Korean aggression with military action if necessary.”
Tillerson said:”Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences.”
In the past few weeks tensions have escalated.
The U.S. has sent a group of American warships led by an aircraft carrier to the region. North Korea has conducted large-scale, live-fire exercises on its eastern coast.
A U.S. missile strike on North Korea “would have absolutely cataclysmic, disastrous consequences,” the former U.S. ambassador to China has warned.
Max Baucus, who was the U.S. ambassador to China for President Barack Obama, said it “should not be categorically discounted” that Trump could order an attack on North Korea.
“After all, President Trump ordered that strike on Syria, and he’s a macho kind of guy, which makes all of us a bit nervous,” the former senator told BBC Radio.
It is urgent that both sides end dangerous talk of using force and end provocative military exercises.
It is crucial that the two nations reduce the belligerent rhetoric and resume talks.