09:20 GMT +324 January 2019
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    In this Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017 photo, fireworks explode after civilians and military personnel participated in a mass rally in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, to mark their country’s sixth underground nuclear test

    'US Does Not Have an Effective Strategy' for Dealing With North Korean Crisis

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    On Sunday, US President Donald Trump kicked off his 12-day Asia tour in Japan. The US president is due to visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Tommy Yang — Despite President Donald Trump’s attempts to involve more countries to imposing sanctions against North Korea during his ongoing trip to Asia, Pyongyang is unlikely to give up its nuclear arms program under economic pressure, while a Pentagon report showed that military operations could put US soldiers in harm’s way, experts told Sputnik.

    As Trump seeks to get more nations to get on board with increasing economic pressure on North Korea, he keeps the military option open, despite a Pentagon assessment released on Saturday, which said it is impossible to destroy Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal without a ground invasion that may cause massive casualties among US soldiers.

    Rear Admiral Michael J. Dumont of the US Joint Staff gave the assessment in a response to US congressmen inquiry about a potential military operation against North Korea.

    "The only way to ‘locate and destroy — with complete certainty — all components of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs’ is through a ground invasion," Dumont said in the letter.

    Sixteen US lawmakers, in a joint statement in a response to the letter, expressed concern that a ground invasion could "result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of deaths in just the first few days of fighting."

    Flawed Policy Position

    As military operations against North Korea could turn into an economic burden to the US, Donald Trump believes economic sanctions will eventually force North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear arsenal, experts told Sputnik.

    "The problem with the United States is that it does not have an effective strategy. Many US officials and scholars also believe that it’s impossible to force North Korea to give up its nuclear arms program through pressure, no matter its economic or military. The most practical option is to freeze its capabilities first, then move toward denuclearization. But the problem is that Trump himself continues to obsessively believe that once China cuts off economic ties with North Korea, Pyongyang would have to give up its nuclear weapons. [Trump] continues to believe it’s possible, while many believe it’s impractical," Zhao Tong, a fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing, told Sputnik.

    Meanwhile, at the press conference following his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, both leaders reiterated their support for increasing economic pressure on North Korea. Abe mentioned the possibility of Japan shooting down North Korea’s missiles, while Trump promised to allow Japan to purchase a massive amount of military equipment from the United States.

    After promising to respond to any North Korean missiles targeting the US territory of Guam with "fire and fury" in August, Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "rocket man" and accused him of being on a "suicide mission for himself and for his regime" at the United Nations General Assembly in September. In addition to his rhetoric of military threats, Trump continued to call on nations with economic ties to North Korea to increase pressure on Pyongyang.

    Costly Ground Invasion

    According to the statement released by 16 US congressmen on the dangers of a ground invasion of North Korea, the lawmakers stressed: "the idea of sending troops  and expending resources on another potential war is chilling." They also called on the US president to stop making provocative statements that hinder diplomatic options and put US troops further at risk.

    Chinese expert Zhao Tong pointed out that the Pentagon assessment on a ground invasion could have a big impact on general public opinion in the United States about military operations against North Korea.

    "[The assessment on ground invasion] could help the public and the president to understand the ultimate price and cost of such military operations. They should not be fooled into thinking that air strikes could solve all the problems. The situation could still evolve into sending boots on the ground, which could increase US casualties significantly," Zhao said.

    READ MORE: Beijing Urges Restraint as Tokyo Plans to Shoot Down North Korean Missiles

    Technical Suspension

    Following its successful nuclear bomb test and launching an intercontinental ballistic missile that flew over Japan and dropped into the Pacific Ocean in September, North Korea did not conduct additional tests related to its nuclear arms programs.

    The Chinese expert argued that the primary cause of the temporary suspension of North Korea missile tests was not international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang but rather technical reasons.

    "On a certain degree, the United States may think its policies are working, as North Korea has not conducted additional missile or nuclear tests for almost two months. But personally, I think it could be caused primarily by technical issues, which were exposed from previous missile tests. All signs indicate that North Korea continued to advance its nuclear arms program through engine tests or construction at ground facilities, despite lack of flight tests for its missiles," Zhao said.

    No Compromise From China

    During Trump’s visit, Japan announced additional sanctions to freeze assets of 35 North Korean entities and individuals. Earlier on Monday, one day before Trump's visit to Seoul, South Korea introduced unilateral sanctions against 18 North Korean individuals, directly affiliated with Pyongyang’s financial institutions.

    Chinese international relations experts suggested that it is unlikely for China to make significant compromises toward the United States.

    "On North Korea, Trump wants China to do more and force the regime to collapse. This demand is too much and China can never fulfill that. China has already got used to such demands. We always call China-US relations the mature relations between two great powers. We have a lot of differences, but we manage to keep them under control. I believe, during Trump’s visit, both sides will express their concerns and offer some compromises, but not enough to make the other side happy," Jin Canrong, a professor in the School of International Studies of Renmin University in Beijing, told Sputnik.

    The Chinese scholar added that both nations can announce Trump’s visit to be successful, without reaching major breakthroughs.


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    trip, international sanctions, denuclearization, Donald Trump, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), United States
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