Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Analysis: US Options on NKorea Narrow Further after Test

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Analysis: US Options on NKorea Narrow Further after Test

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Sanctions on North Korea have been tried, and failed. Serious negotiations seem like a pipe dream. And any military strike would almost surely bring mass devastation and horrific civilian casualties.

The options for the administration of President Donald Trump are going from bad to worse as Kim Jong Un's military marches ever closer to being able to strike the U.S. mainland with nuclear weapons. Just as Trump seeks to show global resolve after the North's most powerful nuclear test, his leverage is limited even further by new tension he has stoked with South Korea.

Trump has taken the unusual step of highlighting disagreements between the U.S. and South Korea, including by floating the possibility he could pull out of a trade deal with to protest trade imbalances. He also suggested on Twitter the two countries lacked unanimity on North Korea, faulting new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has been more conciliatory to the North, for his government's "talk of appeasement."

But in an early morning tweet Tuesday, Trump said, "I am allowing Japan & South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States." Though no details were released, the idea was to show the countries were collaborating to bolster defenses against Kim's government.

National security analysts say it may be time to abandon "denuclearization" and accept North Korea into the nuclear club. The North claimed Sunday's test, its sixth since 2006, was a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted on its new intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Short of allowing Pyongyang's weapons programs to advance, Trump's options all appear to be variations on what has been considered before:

MILITARY OPTIONS

The U.S. military for years has had a full range of contingency plans prepared for potential strikes on the North to try to disrupt its nuclear program or dissuade it from developing further. On Sunday, Trump dispatched Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to warn of a "massive military response" if the North keeps threatening the U.S., while Trump hinted in a call with Japan's leader that the U. …

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