Dunford: US-South Korean Alliance Ready to Defend Against North Korean Threat

Dunford: US-South Korean Alliance Ready to Defend Against North Korean Threat

Dunford: US-South Korean Alliance Ready to Defend Against North Korean Threat

Gen. Dunford is in South Korea as part of a diplomatic visit to the peninsula and China, in an attempt to soothe tensions in the Pacific, spurred by North Korea's continued provocations via its nuclear weapons programs. Beijing announced Monday that it would ban imports of iron ore, iron, lead and coal from North Korea, cutting an important economic lifeline for Pyongyang.

Over the weekend, tension hit a fresh high after US President Donald Trump tweeted that military solutions were "now fully in place, locked and loaded" to counter any North Korean military action.

President Moon said the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is facing more grave, realistic and urgent threats than ever due to the advancement of the North's nuclear and missile capabilities, and condemned the North for undermining the security of the region and beyond with its recent string of ICBM tests.

In Seoul, President Moon Jae-in will give a keynote public address in which he is expected to dwell on the south's long-cherished goal of reunification and urge calm in the current crisis, which has seen an outbreak of verbal hostilities between North Korea and the United States.

The tests are seen as a milestone in the North's quest to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the USA mainland.

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But this year the drills are being preceded by a number of threats and developments unique to 2017, including North Korea testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the continental US.

Pompeo was asked on "Fox News Sunday" to provide a psychological profile of Kim, whose father and grandfather ruled North Korea before him.

"We're not closer to war than a week ago but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago", McMaster said Sunday on ABC's "This Week".

This echoed the tempered statements Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made earlier in the week, even as the president was warning of military action.

Washington is insistent on maximizing economic sanctions and keeping up pressure on the North to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons. "Although peace and negotiation are painful and slow, we must pursue this path", Moon told his advisers ahead of his meeting with Dunford.

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The meeting came the day before the anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II, a day known as "Liberation Day" in both North and South Korea because it brought about the end of Japanese colonization.

The upcoming military exercises by the US and South Korea occur every year. The regime in Pyongyang always strongly objects to the drills, viewing them as a pretext for war.

In response, Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNBC's Squawk on the Street, "You never know how the North Koreans are going react... especially Kim Jong-un, who's afraid of his own shadow, who is concerned about... being toppled, regime change".

The North's news agency, KCNA, warned on Monday that a conflict could be sparked with "a minor incident".

The territory is home to Andersen Air Force Base, which has a fleet of powerful US bombers that have flown over the Korean Peninsula several times this year.

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"If the US goes reckless by wielding a nuclear stick before its rival armed with nukes despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK, it would precipitate its self-destruction", the agency said, using the abbreviation for North Korea's official name.

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