As tensions have risen between the United States and North Korea over the last year, American allies South Korea and Japan have repeatedly come up in conversation as nearby nations that warrant American support, but also as valuable partners in the event of open war with Kim Jong Un’s North Korean regime.  Because of North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal, North Korea is on the verge of posing a legitimately global threat, but out in the Pacific, that threat has been looming for some time now, and despite the coverage, a number of other important allies are equally invested in maintaining the peace and stability of region.

As President Donald Trump travels throughout the Indo-Pacific, a massive show of force in the form of three American aircraft carrier battle groups are scheduled to conduct drills that promise to be quite the spectacle, but another set of drills with participation from American, South Korean and Australian naval forces going on this week may ultimately prove just as important: preparing to intercept shipments of nuclear materials intended for North Korean ports.

This drill is to stop the shipment of North Korea’s nuclear and WMD (weapons of mass destruction) materials in and out through combined navy drill between allies, and to carry out the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) resolution against North Korea’s illegal actions of provocation,” South Korean Navy Rear Adm. and chief of staff for the South Korean fleet, Choi Sung-mok, said.

Each of the three nations have surface vessels participating in the exercises that could ultimately serve to limit Kim’s ability to produce the nuclear warheads his nation is currently developing.  Although it’s clear that the nation already has enough nuclear material to produce the weapons of mass destruction, North Korea’s stockpile of nuclear capable materials will eventually diminish, forcing them to seek more from external sources.

For their part, North Korea has demonstrated no intent to engage in diplomatic discussion regarding the nuclear threat they pose, at least not until they have solidified their ability to actually pose it.  Statements from senior North Korean officials, including Kim himself, in recent weeks have made it clear that the reclusive state will only enter into negotiations once they have confirmed their own ability to strike cities on America’s East Coast.  Of course, in truth North Korean fashion, in the same breath, they have continued to accuse the United States of being the aggressor.

According to a North Korean source, Kim’s regime will be watching Trump’s Pacific trip closely, and want to make it clear that they perceive the naval drills in the region as a catalyst for war.

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“They are not only threatening in words, but they are switching over into action to ignite another Korean War,” the official told CNN.  “Nobody knows when and how the ‘war maniac’ Trump will ignite the wick of war.”

Although the American president has taken an aggressive stance toward North Korea since taking office in January, his statements from Tokyo earlier this week seemed to indicate a willingness on his part to move toward a more diplomatic discussion with Kim’s regime.  All he asked for in return was for North Korea to release as many as a hundred Japanese prisoners the state has been holding for decades.  Thus far, North Korea has not made any formal response to that request.

 

Image courtesy of the South Korean Navy