Big three seek to defuse nuclear tensions

Written By: Ian Hernon
Published: April 21, 2017 Last modified: April 21, 2017

America, China and Russia appear to be moving towards an uneasy alliance to pressure North Korea into pulling back from the brink a nuclear war.

But tensions were being ratcheted up further, with the totalitarian state’s vice foreign minister, Han Song-Ryol, saying it continue to test missiles “on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis”. He said that an “all-out war” would result if the US took military action.

President Donald Trump sent a navy strike group towards the Korean Peninsula, and the US and South Korea are moving ahead with the early deployment of a controversial missile defence system. And North Korea may carry out a sixth nuclear test soon, having test-fired a missile that exploded seconds after launch.

US Vice-President Mike Pence warned that his country’s “era of strategic patience” is over as he visited the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas (pictured).

Amid escalated tensions on the peninsula, with heated rhetoric from both North Korea and the US, analysts suggested that Trump’s confrontational diplomacy is beginning to resonate in Beijing and Moscow, if not in Pyongyang.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would not tolerate “missile adventures by Pyongyang” but added that a unilateral use of power by the US would be “a very risky course”.
And it emerged that during a meeting earlier this month with Trump,

Chinese President Xi Jinping Xi offered co-operation on “communication and co-ordination”.
US policy is to persuade China to contain North Korea while keeping the economic and military pressure on. China, historically Pyongyang’s sole major ally, has reiterated its call for North Korea to stop all nuclear missile tests, and has also called for a peaceful solution to the current crisis.

Pence’s latest comments echoed those made earlier by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who warned that pre-emptive military action was “on the table” when he visited the DMZ last month.
But Lt Gen HR McMaster, the US top security adviser, said his country was working on a “range of options”, the first confirmation the two countries were co-operating to find a solution. Donald Trump also said that Beijing was “working with us on the North Korean problem”.

About Ian Hernon

Ian Hernon is Deputy Editor of Tribune