Author: Richard Grimes
Following this weekends failed attempt to launch a sub-fired Ballistic missile, allies of the US have given the rogue nation of North Korea what some have called a “Final Warning”. The message was first delivered by Vice-President Mike Pence in a speech at the DMZ separating the two nations on Monday. Pence said America has run out of “strategic patience” towards North Korea.
But the Vice President wasn’t the only one to utter those words, Both Japan and South Korea, the U.S.’s major allies in the region and share the US’ hard-line stance on the North Korean issue were quick to echo the message to the North. Japan who has been a staunch Ally of the U.S. Since the end of World War II, said it is considering preparations for a flow of refugees and evacuation of Japanese nationals from the Korean Peninsula in case of an escalation.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “The Trump administration has been clear they won’t be taking the ‘strategic patience’ and all options are on the table in order to tackle the problem, which is something our country approves,” Leaving no doubt as to where they stood on the issue. Abe went on to announce that: “We are consistently thinking and preparing for situations where Japanese residents on the Korean Peninsula will need to be protected or evacuated.”
In his message to the North, Pence took a tough stance while visiting the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. The VP announced the “end of strategic patience” towards Pyongyang and stated that “all options are on the table,” implying a military solution of the standoff was a highly probable action.
In addition, in an even stronger message, acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn promised to punish North Korea if it continues “provocations,” while praising his countries alliance with the US as a “pillar of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.” “…we will swiftly implement intensive punitive measures based on our [US and South Korea] cooperation with China,” Hwang Kyo-ahn said at a joint press conference with Pence.
But China is still holding back, and has stated it wants a diplomatic solution to the crisis despite pressing North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. Beijing still has a large number of economic weapons to use on Pyongyang. They cut oil sales to Pyongyang if it conducts a new nuclear test, according to the Global Times newspaper, such action would cripple the country’s industry. North Korea depends on China for 90 percent of its crude oil supply and the danger of losing it may indeed shift Pyongyang’s policies.
While Pence and Hwang said China is important in defusing the North Korean standoff, the US and South Korea do not look likely to change their plans on the THAAD missile system deployment, despite Chinese concerns. They have, however, agreed not to speed up deployment of the system.