Author: Bryan Harris
Posted on: Financial Times| November 30th, 2017
The US has renewed demands that all nations sever ties with North Korea as Washington again ratcheted up its rhetoric against Pyongyang, threatening that the regime would be “utterly destroyed” if war breaks out.
The comments from Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, come amid warnings from analysts in Seoul of the growing chance of confrontation on the Korean peninsula following Pyongyang’s long-range rocket test earlier this week.
Pyongyang on Wednesday tested its most advanced ballistic missile so far, which it claims puts the entire US within range. The launch was hailed by Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, as the realisation of the “great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force”.
However, it sparked alarm across the globe, particularly in the US where Ms Haley warned that “if war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed”.
Paik Hak-soon, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, said: “The prospect of dialogue is gone following this test and a fully fledged confrontation between the US and North Korea is likely.”
Ms Haley called on nations to sever all ties — diplomatic, scientific, technological, military and trade — with North Korea and reiterated the idea that China should cut off its crude oil supplies.
“We have never sought war with North Korea and still today we do not seek it . . . [but] if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed,” she said.
Since his inauguration in January, US President Donald Trump has urged all nations to sever ties with the reclusive regime — a tactic that has met with some success. This month Singapore cut trade ties with North Korea, while Sudan and the United Arab Emirates both ended diplomatic relations with Pyongyang in October.
About 25 nations maintain a diplomatic presence in Pyongyang.
However, Mr Trump’s efforts — combined with stringent international sanctions — do not appear to be slowing the regime’s development of ballistic and nuclear weapons.
Following a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr Trump said on Wednesday that “additional major sanctions” would be coming.
However, the approach is causing growing consternation among some analysts in Seoul who believe Mr Trump’s policies are only encouraging North Korea to double down on its weapons programmes.
“We are running out of mechanisms to control of North Korea. Trump’s use of pressure and sanctions only gives North Korea a free hand to act on their own,” said Mr Paik.
“Now, there is little possibility of dialogue between North Korea and the US after Washington designated North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism,” he added.
Some analysts had hoped that once North Korea completed its missile programme — as it announced on Wednesday — it would cease missile tests and enter negotiations with the US from a position of strength.
However, Kim Dong-yeop, a military expert at the Institute of Far East Studies, believes such a situation is now unlikely.
“Publicising the ‘completion of our nuclear forces’ is just political rhetoric for North Korean people. The regime must have felt some sort of pressure to let citizens know about their advances before the new year,” he said.
“North Korea is going to continue its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and fire more missiles in the future.”