Kitco News: As North Korean state media threatens to launch a "super-mighty preemptive strike," that would reduce South Korea and the United States "to ashes," Gordon Chang, author of the 2006 bestseller 'Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World,' says there are "bad signs" going forward.
"The problem right now is that the Trump administration has a low threshold for the use of force. We saw that with the missile strike on the Syrian air base. Also, Kim Jong-un, the ruler of North Korea, has a low threshold of risk. We saw a number of instances of instability in the regime not only with the killing of his half-brother Kim Jong-Nam, but also the demotion and detention of the Minister of State Security, and execution of five of his senior subordinates," Chang told Kitco News in an interview.
Jong-un may feel that his grip slipping and he can do things that "surprise us," Chang noted.
The most important thing to do now is get China onboard. And to do that, Trump has to change the way the U.S. has interacted with China on this issue, Chang said.
In the past, both Bush and Obama tried to obtain China's cooperation by being friendly and trying to integrate them into the international system. "That didn't work because the Chinese took that position and let the North Koreans have time to develop nukes and missiles," he said.
What Trump will have to do is impose "costs on China for some very dangerous behavior."
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"We know they have been giving North Koreans components for their nuclear weapons program. And Chinese equities and banks appear to have been involved in North Korean's illicit commerce. That has to stop," Chang noted.
The Chinese government should be doing more, Chang stressed, pointing out that in the Saturday's military parade, there were what looked like Chinese missiles. "So apparently, there has been leakage of this technology and we have to ask the Chinese government how the North Koreans got these."
The military parade was followed by North Korea's failed missile test on Sunday.
The increased tensions came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was looking at ways to pressure North Korea to the negotiation table over its nuclear program.
On Thursday, Trump applauded Chinese efforts to rein in "the menace of North Korea, adding the he was confident that Chinese President Xi Jinping would "try very hard" to put pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.
Trump stated that "some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours." The comments were made during a news conference and Trump did not specify which moves he was talking about.
However, Reuters quoted U.S. officials as saying that they were aware of a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers.
Earlier in the day, the North Korean state media, the Rodong Sinmun, issued an aggressive warning to the U.S.
"In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists' invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes," it said.