by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Although the White House had previously signaled that the American “era of strategic patience” with North Korea had ended, Trump’s strategy for dealing with the belligerent regime had focused heavily on persuading China to leverage its influence with Pyongyang in order to move toward denuclearization.
Adm. James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, said relying on China and U.S. allies is key to addressing the North Korean threat.
“We need to double down on diplomacy and using the international community to address this collectively, especially China,” Stavridis told the Washington Examiner. “In the end all roads to Pyongyang lead through Beijing.”
Trump’s vow to hit North Korea with “fire and fury” if it continues to threaten the U.S. suggested military action could be one of the options presently under consideration. Officials have so far remained tight-lipped about the specific strategies Trump is considering, as the president frequently criticized his predecessor’s tendency to broadcast in advance what the U.S. planned to do in response to international conflicts.
“We do have a lot of options as long as we accept the fact that North Korea already has nuclear weapons,” said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest. “The day has come when we have to definitively say that North Korea is a nuclear state.”
Kazianis said the most important step the administration can take is to limit the flow of resources into Pyongyang to prevent the North Koreans from obtaining even more dangerous weapons, such as a hydrogen bomb or a three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile.