Published: Wed, August 16, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

CIA Chief: Not Surprising If North Korea Tests Missile Again

CIA Chief: Not Surprising If North Korea Tests Missile Again

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday urged the sabre-rattling to stop, declaring "there must not be another war on the Korean Peninsula". "While diplomacy is our preferred means of changing North Korea's course of action, it is backed by military options", they said. A decision was due this week, a week during which the Kim regime is celebrating the ruling family with huge propaganda displays in North Korea. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is thus closely monitoring developments. Some estimates of the radar's range place much of mainland China within the US' sights, meaning that one day the USA could possibly integrate THAAD into a larger missile defense system that would neuter China's ability to launch nuclear missiles without warning, thereby eroding its nuclear deterrent and national power.

There are now 25,500 military personnel in South Korea, over 7,000 military and civilian personnel on Guam, and another 55,000 in Japan, primarily from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

The military adviser said the USA is "focused on coming up with a peaceful way ahead", after he met with first-term South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Sunday, but made it clear that Washington's military apparatus would work in unison with economic and diplomatic efforts instead of as a single force on its own. "Nobody's looking for war", the marine general said.

"As a military leader, I've got to make sure that the president does have viable military options in the event that the diplomatic and economic pressurization campaign fails", he added.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea is making it known that unilateral military action against North Korea is impermissible without the consent of South Korea. "Whatever it takes, the nuclear issues must be resolved peacefully". There is a host of things going on. "If they fire at the United States, it could escalate into war very quickly", Mr Mattis said. But he warned pointedly: "You don't shoot at people in this world unless you want to bear the consequences".

The Associated Press reported last week that a USA envoy and his North Korean counterpart have discussed three other Americans being held in North Korea. China's Commerce Ministry issued an order on Monday banning imports of coal, iron ore, lead concentrates and ore, lead and sea food from North Korea, effective from Tuesday.

The United States and South Korea remain technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

Donald Trump's recent comments that the United States military is "locked and loaded" to deal with North Korea are part of an escalating war of words - with that warning coming in response to Pyongyang's threat to attack the USA territory of Guam, a small Pacific island about 2,200 miles (3,540 km) southeast of the Korean peninsula.

"President Donald Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, on ABC's This Week program said "... The US has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

The US hasn't taken any public steps to prepare for hostilities such as evacuating Americans from Seoul, which is within range of North Korean artillery, or moving ships, aircraft or troops into position for an imminent response. The new South Korean president has proposed military talks with North Korea to try and reduce tensions.

South Korean Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk agreed North Korea was likely to continue provocations, including nuclear tests, but did not see a big risk of the North engaging in actual military conflict.

Clapper's assessment came as CIA Director Mike Pompeo reiterated Sunday that the Trump administration's goal was to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

"I am certain the United States will respond to the current situation calmly and responsibly in a stance that is equal to ours", he said in opening remarks at a meeting with senior aides. He even suggested that the gap between the allies was not large, as both are focused on peace.

This is not a time for bellicose words from volatile leaders that will escalate tensions between the USA and North Korea.

The state-run Global Times said on Tuesday that Seoul should play a buffer between the United States and North Korea to prevent a head-on confrontation.

"The United States military's priority is to support our government's efforts to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through diplomatic and economic pressure", General Dunford was quoted as saying in a Korean-language statement released by Mr. Moon's office after the meeting on Monday.

The ministry quoted Lavrov as saying tensions could rise again with the US and South Korea set to launch large-scale military exercises on August 21.

He also has called for speeding up the long-delayed transfer of wartime operational control from the the South Koreans.

The United States has carried our several B-1B Lancer strategic bomber jet flights from Guam to the peninsula, with the last one carried out about a week ago.

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