US plans first test of ICBM intercept, with North Korea on mind

President Donald Trump has had phone conversations on the subject with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the USA must test China on North Korea by "leaning in hard" on Xi.

Experts say North Korea probably would respond with artillery fire that would light up Seoul and its 10 million residents, decoy missiles would streak across the sky to overwhelm missile defenses, and ground forces would pour in through hidden tunnels.

It marks the first such approval since the administration of liberal President Moon Jae-in took office early this month amid expectations of engagement with North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported.

"They've said that they have stepped up border inspections, beefed up sort of the policing function on the border, stepped up customs inspections", she said.

"This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens US citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with 'wartime law of the DPRK.' Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea, the USA government has no means to provide normal consular services to USA citizens in North Korea".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as Democrat and Republican leaders, crowed that our missile attack against Syria "sent a message to North Korea". Moscow and Beijing are firmly in favor of the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Friday.

Many now believe that Pyongyang was never serious (pdf, p. 1) about ending its nuclear and missile programs, and the Trump administration is now considering whether to put North Korea back on the terrorism list.

Thornton said Beijing now understands "that they don't have, I think, as much time to try to bring the North Koreans to the table, get their calculus changed and get them to the negotiating table as they may have previously thought".

Still, given North Korea's proximity, China is unwise to continue tolerating the nuclear threat posed by Kim Jong Un's government.

While the USA and North Korea differ on human rights and forms of government, the whole world can stand behind the issue of nuclear nonproliferation. Beijing and Moscow are concerned that the tensions on the peninsular could spiral out of control and have supported a UN Security Council initiative that would build on the UN vote a year ago to tighten some sanctions in response to Pyongyang's fifth nuclear test. Satellite imagery suggests it could be ready to conduct its next test - its sixth - at any time.

Multiple test missile launches, including one last Sunday, have increased calls for more sanctions pressure on the country. In August it said it had stopped disabling its nuclear reactor, and it threatened to reboot plutonium production unless the U.S. removed North Korea from a list of state sponsors of terrorism. The target is not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM though.

The lawmakers also expressed concerns about the confusion in South Korea over the ongoing deployment here of the US' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.

  • Zachary Reyes