July 10, 2017 by Warren Mass
Meeting with the leaders of Asian nations on the sidelines of the G20 economic summit at Hamburg, Germany, on July 8, President Trump condemned communist North Korea’s ongoing development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.
Speaking of his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said the two leaders were tackling “the problem and menace of North Korea.”
Abe stated that the security situation in the Asia Pacific region has become “increasingly severe” due to North Korea’s efforts to develop its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program. The Japanese leader said he wanted to “demonstrate the robust partnership as well as the bonds” between Japan and the United States on the issue.
“As I look at the current situation, particularly the security environment in the Asia Pacific region, including North Korea, we believe that it has become increasingly severe,” Abe said during his meeting with Trump.
Reuters reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping — whom Trump has urged to use China’s economic leverage to exert pressure on Pyongyang — hosted Trump for a meeting just after the summit concluded.
“I appreciate the things that you have done relative to the very substantial problem that we all face in North Korea, a problem that something has to be done about,” Trump told the Chinese president. “It may take longer than I’d like, it may take longer than you’d like,” Trump continued. “But there will be success in the end one way or the other.”
The Reuters report noted that Trump campaigned for the presidency on a position of cracking down on China for its trade practices, but has softened his tone after taking office, instead placing emphasis on working with China on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.
The G20 summit came just four days after North Korea claimed to have successfully tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that reportedly reached an altitude of more than 1,700 miles and a distance of almost 580 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan. Had the missile been launched at a lower angle, the distance of nearly 580 miles could easily have been multiplied several times over, giving it a range of up to 5,000 miles. Potential targets within that range would include most of Russia, Hawaii, and Alaska.
A report in The Hill last November quoted a statement made by retired Air Force General (and former director of the National Security Agency) Michael Hayden predicting an even more ominous scenario: “I really do think it is very likely that by the end of Mr. Trump’s first term, the North Koreans will be able to reach Seattle with a nuclear weapon onboard an indigenously produced intercontinental ballistic missile.”
A report in The New American on July 4 observed that after Pyongyang’s missile test that day, President Trump fired off a series of Tweets, writing, “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy [Kim Jong-un] have anything better to do with his life?” and “Hard to believe South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
A press release posted by Headquarters Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs on July 7 stated that, in response to the North Korean missile test, two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam had on that day conducted a 10-hour sequenced bilateral mission with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets.
That statement read, in part:
The mission is in response to a series of increasingly escalatory actions by North Korea, including a launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 3.
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland,” said General Terrence O’ Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander. “Let me be clear, if called upon we are trained, equipped and ready to unleash the full lethal capability of our allied air forces.”
A report on the U.S. response in the Washington Examiner observed that not everyone in the national security community believes our nation’s recent displays of military strength are effective. The paper quoted retired Air Force General Chuck Wald, who told the Examiner that the United States would be better off trying to shoot down one of North Korea’s test missiles instead of test-firing our missiles off the South Korean coast.
Photo of Trump: Screenshot of YouTube video of G20 opening ceremony