Friday, 15 December, 2017

McMaster: Potential for war with North Korea 'increasing every day'

A US Air Force U-2s spy plane lands at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek South Korea A US Air Force U-2s spy plane lands at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek South Korea
Howard Terry | 04 December, 2017, 00:34

The US and South Korea will launch a major air force exercise involving hundreds of aircraft on Monday, a move denounced by North Korea for bringing the region to the "brink of nuclear war".

The Trump administration has vowed to deny North Korea the capability of striking the USA homeland with a nuclear-tipped missile.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that he believes it's time to start moving the families of American military personnel out of South Korea as North Korea pushes the US closer to a military conflict.

The exercises come after last week's test-launch by North Korea of its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) yet, though the US-South Korea drills had already been planned.

It flew 600 miles (950 km) before splashing down in waters near Japan and is potentially capable of striking targets as far as 8,100 (13,000 km), which would put Washington within reach.

About 28,500 USA troops are stationed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from the North.

The initial analysis shows Tuesday's launch likely involved a two-stage missile with a non-explosive dummy warhead, the official said.

"It is an open, all-out provocation against the DPRK, which may lead to a nuclear war any moment", it said in an editorial on Sunday, using the North's official name.

"The stealth fighters which the enemies boast so much of will not escape the fate of a tiger moth", the North Korean commentary said. The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

But the national security adviser said Kim was extremely unlikely to change his behavior "without some significant new actions in the form of much more severe sanctions" and "complete enforcement of the sanctions that are in place".

China, North Korea's ally, has in the past sought to block any discussion on human rights in North Korea, arguing that the Human Rights Council in Geneva was the forum for those concerns, and not the Security Council.

"I would need to see a bit more differences to fully believe they made this themselves", Dave Schmerler, a research associate at the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, said of the launch transport vehicle.

While condemning the latest test, the Kremlin's Peskov said: "We hope that all the sides involved are able to preserve calm, which is so necessary to avoid the situation on the Korean peninsula sliding towards a worst-case scenario".

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