President Trump delivered an ultimatum to China yesterday, insisting that if Beijing failed to use its influence on North Korea to disable the country’s nuclear program, America would confront the nation on its own.
Speaking before his first meeting with President Xi this week, Mr Trump said that he was “totally” prepared to take unilateral action on the Korean peninsula to halt Kim Jong-un’s nuclear missile program.
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” Mr Trump said. “China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”
Mr Trump issued the blunt warning days after the US Treasury imposed sanctions on 11 North Korean agents working in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cuba, accusing them of seeking to procure components for the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The move came after a series of missile tests by North Korea, military drills by the US and South Korea, and sharp rhetoric from both Pyongyang and Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, who warned that military action against North Korea was being considered.
Mr Kim, the North Korean dictator, has outpaced his father and grandfather in the country’s nuclear ambitions since he came to power in 2011. US intelligence agencies believe that he will have the capability within a few years to fire a long-range ballistic missile that could hit the west coast of America. However, they think that he is some way off from being able to shrink a nuclear warhead — a process known as miniaturising — for it to be transported by a long-range missile.
In an interview for the Financial Times, Mr Trump said that he hoped to be able to persuade the Chinese president to use his country’s “great influence over North Korea”. They will meet at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
China is seen as holding the most power over North Korea because the impoverished nation relies on Beijing for food, raw materials and technical expertise.
However, Mr Trump declared that the US could solve the crisis on the Korean peninsula on its own. “I don’t have to say any more,” he said, adding: “This isn’t an exercise. This is a very, very serious problem.”
Separately, the US leader said that although he thought Brexit was “very good for the UK”, he no longer believed other nations would seek to leave the EU. “I would have thought when it happened that more would follow, but I really think the European Union is getting their act together,” he said. “I think that it’s really holding. I think they’ve done a better job since Brexit. I think they have done a better job.”
Mr Trump added that he sensed a new beginning in Europe after Brexit: “There is a different spirit for holding together. I don’t think they had that spirit when they were fighting with the UK and UK ultimately decided to go out … I actually think it is going to be a great deal for UK, and I think it is going to be really, really good also for the European Union.”
Source: The Times