segunda-feira, 10 de abril de 2017
North Korea 'ready for war' after US navy strike team redeploys / Tillerson: China agrees on 'action' on North Korea as navy strike group sails
North Korea 'ready for war' after US navy strike team redeploys
Pyongyang cites ‘reckless moves’ by US and says it will defend the country from invasion ‘by powerful force of arms’, according to reports
Justin McCurry in Tokyo and Tom Phillips in Beijing
Tuesday 11 April 2017 02.12 BST
North Korea has warned of “catastrophic consequences” in response to any further provocations by the US, days after a US navy battle group was sent to waters off the Korean peninsula.
The decision to divert the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and other battleships from a planned visit to Australia to the western Pacific came after tensions increased over ongoing military drills involving American and South Korean forces that Pyongyang regards as a dress rehearsal for an invasion.
“We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions,” North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying. “(North Korea) is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US.”
The spokesman cited Washington’s refusal to rule out a pre-emptive strike against North Korean missile sites as justification for its nuclear programme.
“The prevailing grave situation proves once again that (North Korea) was entirely just when it increased in every way its military capabilities for self-defence and pre-emptive attack with a nuclear force as a pivot,” the spokesman said, according to KCNA.
“We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms.”
Last week’s US strike against a Syrian base is also being seen as a warning to North Korea, after Donald Trump said Washington was prepared to act alone if China failed to exert more pressure on its neighbour to halt its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.
North Korea again defied UN resolutions banning it from developing ballistic missile technology with another test-launch on the eve of Trump’s summit with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, in Florida last week.
White House officials have signalled that all options – including pre-emptive strikes – remain on the table in addressing North Korea’s steady advance towards developing long-range missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as the US mainland.
The nuclear-powered Carl Vinson’s presence in the area coincides with speculation that North Korea could be preparing to conduct its sixth nuclear test to coincide with key dates in the country’s history, including the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, on Saturday.
China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, has played down reports that Beijing has deployed 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea.
Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters she was “not aware” of such a mobilisation by the People’s Liberation Army along the 880-mile border. In the past, similar reports had been proven “groundless and false,” Hua claimed.
However, with regional tensions building ahead of Saturday’s Kim Il-sung commemorations, Hua said China was “closely following” developments on the Korean peninsula.
“We believe that, given the current situation, all relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid activities that may escalate the tension.”
Tillerson: China agrees on 'action' on North Korea as navy strike group sails
Secretary of state: ‘President Xi understands the situation has intensified’
Syria missile strike described by North as ‘intolerable act of aggression’
Edward Helmore and agencies
Sunday 9 April 2017 15.31 BST First published on Sunday 9 April 2017 00.28 BST
As the US navy deployed a strike group towards the western Pacific Ocean, to provide a presence near the Korean peninsula, the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said China agreed with the Trump administration that “action has to be taken” regarding North Korea.
Tillerson told CBS’s Face the Nation, in an interview broadcast on Sunday, that when Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping met at the Mar-a-Lago resort this week, they “had extensive discussions around the dangerous situation in North Korea”.
“President Xi clearly understands, and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson described a “shared view and no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become”.
In view of the regional threat now posed by North Korean missile tests and nuclear ambitions, he said, the Chinese “do not believe the conditions are right today to engage in discussions with the government in Pyongyang”.
“We’re hopeful,” he added, “that we can work together with the Chinese to change the conditions in the minds of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] leadership. And then, at that point, perhaps discussions may be useful.
“But I think there’s a shared view and no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become. And I think even China is beginning to recognise that this presents a threat to even to China’s interests as well.”
The Carl Vinson strike group, which includes an aircraft carrier, was first scheduled to make port calls in Australia but was redirected from Singapore to the western Pacific.
“US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson strike group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the western Pacific,” said Commander Dave Benham, spokesman at US Pacific Command.
“The No 1 threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” he said, in an unusually forceful statement.
On Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser HR McMaster told Fox News Sunday the strike group had been moved because “it is prudent to do it”.
The news followed a Friday report by NBC that the National Security Council had included the return of nuclear weapons to South Korea in options presented to Trump for dealing with North Korea. Killing North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was also presented as an option, NBC reported.
Discussing that report on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, the Massachusetts senator Ed Markey, a Democratic member of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, said such moves would cause “an escalation of tension that could lead to nuclear war”. The US, Markey said, should work with China to establish direct talks with Kim, as the best way to tackle “this boiling, bubbling cauldron”.
On Saturday the White House said Trump had spoken to the acting president of South Korea, Hwang Kyo-ahn. North Korea, meanwhile, called the US missile strike on Syria on Thursday night “an intolerable act of aggression”.
Analysts have said the Syria strike, launched after the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, contained a clear message for Pyongyang that the US is not afraid to exercise the military option. Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Tillerson strongly suggested as much, saying of Syria: “If you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken.”
Trump has recently threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help curb its neighbour’s nuclear weapons programme. Pyongyang’s response on Saturday suggested it was determined to continue.
“Swaggering as a superpower, the US has been picking only on countries without nuclear weapons and the Trump administration is no exception,” a foreign ministry spokesman said, according to the KCNA news agency.
The comments were Pyongyang’s first since Trump ordered the strikes on Syria.
“The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it,” KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying.
“The reality of today shows that we must stand against power with power and it proves a million times over that our decision to strengthen our nuclear deterrence has been the right choice.
“The Syria attack thoroughly reminds us the fact that it is absolutely dangerous to have any illusions about imperialism and only military power of our own will protect us from imperialistic aggression.
“We will keep bolstering our self-defensive military might in various ways in order to cope with the ever-intensifying US acts of aggression.”
The North has carried out five nuclear tests – two last year – and expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth. Pyongyang has shown no sign of reining in a missile testing programme ultimately aimed at securing the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental US.
Asked on ABC if North Korean development of an intercontinental missile would be a “red line” for Trump, Tillerson said: “If we judge that they have perfected that type of delivery system, then that becomes a very serious stage of their further development.”
He added: “With no further testing, their programme does not progress and that’s what we’ve asked for before we can begin to have further talks with them.”