The continued advances in ballistic missile development and the insistence on enhancing its nuclear weapons capabilities has made North Korea a threat to its nearest northern neighbors, China and Russia, not to mention the entire world, insists one U.S. Navy admiral. Speaking in Japan, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command Harry Harris not only maintained that the trilateral alliance between the United States, South Korea, and Japan must remain strong but that the world, but most notably China and Russia, needed to work together to “bring Kim Jong-Un to his senses.”
Admiral Harry Harris, in discussing a stronger world response to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, stated, according to the Diplomat, “I firmly believe that the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, China, Russia and every nation who considers itself to be a responsible contributor to international security, must publicly and privately work together to bring Kim Jong-Un to his senses, not to his knees.”
Harris was careful not to include rhetoric that suggested that Kim Jong-un and his regime should be replaced. After months of sparring with increasingly threatening political rhetoric from both the United States and North Korea, the U.S. has toned down its challenges to Kim Jong-un, even though earlier this month, Politico reported that the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) accused, through its Ministry of State Security, the U.S. of plotting the assassination of its leader, Kim Jong-un.
Harris insisted that dealing with the threat of a nuclear North Korea was not just a regional or a U.S. problem (given that the U.S. bears the brunt of much of North Korea’s bellicose language), but a world problem.
“The dangerous behavior by North Korea is not just a threat to the Korean Peninsula,” he said, “it’s a threat to Japan, it’s a threat to China, it’s a threat to Russia — let me say that again… it’s a threat to Russia — it’s a threat to the United States, it’s a threat to the entire world.”
As Agence France-Press reported, Harris emphasized the danger of North Korea’s recent launching of several ballistic missiles, the latest of which occurred last week when a missile landed in the Sea of Japan. Although it was reported by the U.S. as having landed just 60 miles from the Russian naval city of Vladivostok, Russia later dismissed the test as no threat and actually splashing into the Pacific over 300 miles from Russian territory.
“In every test he [Kim] makes,” Harris said, according to AFP, “it’s a success because it takes North Korea one step closer to be able to deliver a nuclear-tipped missile anywhere in the world.”
He added, “I must assume Kim Jong-Un’s claims are the truth, because I know his aspirations certainly are… That should provide all of us with a sense of urgency to address this problem now.”
Admiral Harris is in Tokyo to discuss the North Korean situation and other issues with members of the Japanese government, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom he met May 16.
After the missile launch on May 14, the United States, Japan, and South Korea called for a U.N. Security Council meeting to demand that North Korea alter its current aggressive course and begin dismantling its missile and nuclear programs. Harris also acknowledged, the Diplomat reported, China’s role in helping to resolve the continuing tensions in the region, but noted, in his opinion, that Kim Jong-Un and North Korea had become “a liability for China, not an asset.” He also emphasized that the U.S. has been encouraging China to take “appropriate actions” with regard to its volatile neighbor.
As for Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, according to AFP, that the most recent ballistic missile test was dangerous, but he also warned against attempts to “intimidate” North Korea.
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