It is becoming increasingly clearer to the U.S. that North Korea has demonstrated a " qualitative" improvement in its nuclear and missile capabilities making it imperative for the U.S. to sustain its pressure on Pyongyang to compel it to engage in disarmament negotiations.
Just last year, North Korea conducted an unprecedented level of tests with 24 missiles tests and two nuclear tests. The rogue state has been learning from each test. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that because of such increased activities on their nuclear and arms capabilities ans the lessons they have been gaining from said tests, the threat North Korea poses to the U.S. and its close allies Japan and South Korea grows more acute by the day.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday announced that his country was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile ( ICBM) of a kind that could one day hit the U.S. Because of said threat, Blinken said it is becoming increasingly more important as well for the U.S., Japan and South Korea and other countries to boost cooperation to defend against North Korea's threat. At the same time, Blinken said, it is also crucial to compel North Korea to go back to the negotiating table and push for its denuclearization.
President-elect Donald Trump responded to Kim's announcement with confidence that " it won't happen."
Former U.S. officials and experts share the opinion that the U.S. essentially has two options in dealing with North Korea's fast expanding nuclear and missiles program- negotiate or take military action. There are no guarantees, however, that either path would bring in the desired success. The military option is particularly fraught with dangers, especially for America's allies Japan and South Korea, given their close proximity to North Korea.
Japan Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama said that Tokyo does not expect major changes in Trump's would be Asia policy since U.S. security treaties with Tokyo and Seoul are an important pillar of American policy.
Trump also tweeted early this week that another neighbor of North Korea and its only ally, China, has not been helping in containing Pyongyang despite Beijing's expressed support for the successive rounds of U.N. sanctions.