The Trump administration is reportedly considering positioning nuclear weapons in South Korea in an attempt to fend off rising hostility from the North Korean regime.
According to NBC News, the National Security Council has presented Donald Trump and his advisers with a range of options to counteract the North Korean threat, among them positioning nuclear weapons in South Korea or assassinating the country’s dictator Kim Jong-un.
Another option would be to perform military exercises as a show of force in the region, using strategic bombers and practicing long range strikes, with the potential to take out some of North Korea’s key military infrastructure.
The consideration for military proliferation in South Korea comes amidst rising tensions in the region, as the North launched ballistic missile tests on Wednesday morning in another provocative act.
“We have 20 years of diplomacy and sanctions under our belt that has failed to stop the North Korean program,” a senior intelligence officer told NBC. “I’m not advocating pre-emptive war, nor do I think that the deployment of nuclear weapons buys more for us than it costs.”
Secretary of Defense James Mattis has previously warned that any attack from North Korea on the United States would lead to a retaliation that is both “effective and overwhelming.”
In March, Donald Trump claimed that China has “done very little to help” reduce the North Korean threat. Following his meeting this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said the pair had made “tremendous progress” in the relationship between the two countries.
North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been "playing" the United States for years. China has done little to help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2017
This week, Trump warned that, “if China is not going to solve the North Korean threat, [America] will.”
“China has great influence over North Korea and China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump said. “And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”
During his presidential campaign, Trump called for countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia to develop nuclear weapons in order to reduce the North Korean threat.
The news also follows Trump’s decision on Thursday to order airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime in response to a chemical weapons attack carried out by the regime. Before the strike took place, Kim Jong-un congratulated al-Assad on the 70th anniversary of the country’s ruling Ba’ath party, suggesting the pair have a warm relationship.