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U.S. Will Defend Against North Korean Threat


South Korean marine K1 tank fires during a joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States. (File)

The United States will defend itself and its allies from any threat from North Korea.

The United States will defend itself and its allies from any threat from North Korea.

Senior U.S. officials repeated that iron-clad position following North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Day claim that his country “has soared as a nuclear power” and is now in the last stages of preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest pointed out that “there are radar facilities and antiballistic missile facilities that have been installed in places like Japan and Guam and in Alaska. There are naval vessels, ballistic missile defense ships that are patrolling the Pacific Ocean.”

To address the threat from North Korea’s extended range SCUDs and No Dong medium-range ballistic missiles, the United States is also working with South Korea to install as quickly and efficiently as possiblethe Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system aimed at defending against North Korean ballistic missile threats.

In addition to the defenses that are in place to protect the United States and its allies, Mr. Earnest noted that “progress has been made in building important diplomatic support to apply pressure to the North Korean regime to limit their ability to continue to develop this program.”

In November, the U.N. Security Council imposed new and expanded sanctions on North Korea, targeted at undermining Pyongyang’s ability to raise the hard currency it needs for its nuclear program. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby called the new sanctions “the most stringent” that have been imposed on North Korea in decades, and observed they show that “the international community is clearly galvanized [as] it hasn’t been before.”

After a trilateral meeting in Washington January 5th with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama and South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters the international community has sent a clear message that it “will not accept North Korea as a nuclear power.”

“Our cooperation together and with other countries in making sure that we have in place the best possible defenses is critical and that will remain going forward,” said Mr. Blinken. “At the same time it’s absolutely, vitally important that we exercise sustained, comprehensive pressure on North Korea to get it to stop these programs, to come back to the negotiating table, and to engage in good faith on denuclearization…and I believe as long as we sustain it and build on it, [the pressure] will have an effect.”

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