Trump warns of military action with North Korea if sanctions don't work
24 February, 2018
President Trump signaled on Friday that military action could be in the works if new sanctions against North Korea don’t curb the country’s nuclear ambitions.
The White House on Friday announced aggressive new sanctions against North Korea aimed at crippling their ability to trade.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House, Trump said that if the sanctions don’t work “we’ll have to go to phase two,” which he said “may be a very rough thing.”
“We'll have to see,” Trump said. “I don't think I'm going to exactly play that card. But we'll have to see. If the sanctions don't work we'll have to go to phase two. Phase two may be a very rough thing. May be very, very unfortunate for the world.”
“But hopefully the sanctions will work,” Trump added. “We have tremendous support all around the world for what they're doing. It really is a rogue nation. If they can make a deal it will be a great thing. If we can't, something will have to happen. So we'll see.”
24 February, 2018
The Trump administration is coordinating with key Asian allies to crack down on ships suspected of violating sanctions imposed on North Korea, Reuters reports.
The joint effort between the U.S. Coast Guard and regional partners including Japan, South Korea, Australia and Singapore, would go further than ever before to physically block deliveries of banned weapons, components for its nuclear missile program and other prohibited cargo. Suspected violators could be targeted on the high seas or in the territorial waters of countries which cooperate with the coalition. Up to now, suspect ships have been intercepted on a far more limited basis.
Depending on the scale of the campaign, the U.S. might even devote a portion of air and naval power from the Pacific Command - though the plan would stop short of a full naval blockade according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
While suspect ships have been intercepted before, the emerging strategy would expand the scope of such operations but stop short of imposing a naval blockade on North Korea. Pyongyang has warned it would consider a blockade an act of war. -Reuters
That said, some are concerned that the tougher measures may stoke tensions amid a tense period of diplomacy between nations.
Tighter sanctions plus a more assertive approach at sea could dial up tensions at a time when fragile diplomacy between North and South Korea has gained momentum. It would also stretch U.S. military resources needed elsewhere, possibly incur massive new costs and fuel misgivings among some countries in the region.
China and Russia, which have blocked U.S. efforts at the United Nations to win approval for use of force in North Korea interdiction operations, are likely to oppose new actions if they see the United States as overstepping. A Chinese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said such steps should only be taken under United Nations auspices.
QUESTION: Can you rule out the United States boarding and inspecting North Korean ships...
MNUCHIN: No, I -- I cannot rule that out.
"The vessels are smuggling Russian fuel from Russian Far Eastern ports to North Korea," said the first security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. -Reuters