U.S. to strengthen deterrence, defensive capabilities in Asia: Trump
Remarks come as Trump set to discuss North Korea with Chinese President Xi Jinping
U.S. President Donald Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Washington would continue to increase its military capabilities to defend allies in Asia following a North Korean ballistic missile test earlier in the week, according to a White House press released issued on Wednesday.
The two leaders spoke on the phone following the test, with Trump reaffirming support for regional allies Japan and South Korea and Abe calling the launch “new threat from North Korea”.
“The President also made clear that the United States will continue to strengthen its ability to deter and defend itself and its allies with the full range of its military capabilities,” the White House press statement on the phone call reads.
U.S. Pacific Command said the North had fired a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile from a land-based facility near Sinpo on the DPRK’s east coast. However Reuters subsequently reported that White House officials determined the missile was a liquid-fuel scud.
The U.S. administration’s pledge to increase military hardware in the region comes on the heels of a controversial missile defense system deployment, which has deeply angered China.
But Washington may have a range of military options it could scale to increasing threats from North Korea.
“The U.S. has treaty commitments that require the deployment of capabilities in the region to deter threats in accordance with those treaty commitments,” Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea watcher at Troy University told NK News.
“I don’t see more U.S. military personnel being stationed in the region under current conditions, But conventional strike assets, the types of military training, and missile defense capabilities can be adjusted to counter increasing threats.”
Further options could include deploying additional naval assets in the region.
“It’s difficult to know if that statement was made with any specifics mind … but (options) could include an increased naval presence, especially by destroyers and other platforms equipped with Aegis and with SM-3 missiles (used to intercept SRBMs, MRBMs, and IRBMs),” John Grisafi, theNK News Director of Intelligence, said.
Trump’s remarks are the latest in a string of tough talk on North Korea in the run-up to his first face to face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in Florida on Thursday.
North Korea’s accelerated weapons testing schedule is likely to be high on the agenda, with the U.S. administration previously claiming that military options and secondary financial sanctions on Chinese banks are on the table.
Trump also said over the weekend the U.S. would solve the problem of the North’s nuclear program with or without Chinese help, while the White House said two days later that “clock is very, very quickly running out.”
While the exact itinerary of the meeting has not been released, CNBC reports talks on trade and economy are expected to take place on Friday morning. The Whitehouse also said on Tuesday that Trump would be sending a clear signal to Xi on North Korea, though would not discuss the specifics of his strategy.
The U.S. President will be accompanied by Defense Secretary James Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
U.S. President Donald Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Washington would continue to increase its military capabilities to defend allies in Asia following a North Korean ballistic missile test earlier in the week, according to a White House press released issued on Wednesday. The two leaders spoke on the phone following the test,