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North Korea crisis: War would be horrific, USA general says

21 August 2017

Both the United States and South Korea say the war games are defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.

But South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported the allies were mulling scrapping an initial plan to bring in two aircraft carriers to the peninsula to take part in the drill.

The risk to South Korea has restrained successive American administrations striking North Korea to take out its nuclear and missile facilities, even as its capability has improved to the point where it now poses a threat to the US mainland.

His remarks came after Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump's chief strategist, on Wednesday floated the possibility of a deal between the US and North Korea in which US troops withdraw from South Korea in exchange for a verifiable freeze in the North's nuclear program.

The call came as China urged the United States and North Korea to "hit the brakes" on the hostile rhetoric that has led to both countries threatening each other with military action and to prevent an "August crisis" on the peninsula.

Between Moon and Trump, however, "red lines" appear to be flexible with regard to North Korea's capabilities.

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Nauert also said that, regarding the conditions for opening dialogue with North Korea on denuclearization, a suspension of nuclear tests, missile launch tests, and activities contributing to the instability of the region would be a superb show of goodwill. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we canceled these drills as an example of good faith and requested that North Korea begin direct discussions with the United States?

Trump tweeted that Kim a had "made a very wise and well reasoned decision".

Gen. Joseph Dunford said Thursday that he has advised US leadership not to "dial back" joint war games with South Korea that are due to begin next week despite threats from North Korea.

"The Ministers condemned in the strongest terms North Korea's recurring provocations and development of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, which have entered a new phase, and pose an increasing threat to regional and worldwide peace and stability", a joint statement said after the meeting.

North Korea claims it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon.

The North said the Guam missile strike could be reinstated in the event of "reckless actions" by Washington, and analysts say the exercise could become an alarming flash point.

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It's likely a coincidence, but South Korean President Moon Jae-in also publicly declared that the military option is not on the table this week.

And if the very worst did happen, Hosomura pointed out, then the United States naval base at Yokosuka is a mere 40km to the south and would nearly certainly be one of the first North Korean targets in any opening exchange of missiles.

But for all the tempered words of his top officials, Trump has been issuing tough threats to North Korea.

Following last year's Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the North conducted a nuclear test.

That new crisis could potentially arise as soon as Monday, when the US and South Korean militaries are scheduled to start the annual Ulchi Freedom exercises.

China is North Korea's main economic partner and political backer, although relations between the two countries have deteriorated amid the North's continuing defiance of China's calls for restraint.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in rules out war with North Korea
China's Global Times newspaper, a state-run tabloid, was scathing of South Korea's decision to proceed with the drills. The South Korean leader did make clear, however, that North Korea's nuclear weapons development is nearing a red line.