US Eyes Sanctions, Diplomacy to 'De-escalate' North Korea

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Trump administration said North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and the US will exert pressure through diplomatic measures and tighter economic sanctions.

US Eyes Sanctions, Diplomacy to 'De-escalate' North Korea

That's according to a statement issued by the State Department and defense and intelligence chiefs Wednesday after briefing senators, AP reported.

The statement outlines a policy that sounds similar to that of the Obama administration.

It says President Donald Trump aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile and proliferation programs, and is engaging the international community to achieve that and persuade Kim Jong-un's government "to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue."

The US "remains open to negotiations" to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but the statement adds, "we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies."

The top US military officer in the Pacific says frequent demonstrations of American military might are key to keeping North Korea in check.

Admiral Harry Harris Jr. told the House armed services committee that deploying American warships to waters around the Korean Peninsula and flying B-1 and B-52 bombers in the skies above help to "ameliorate [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un's worst impulses."

US forces are also conducting exercises in the region with the Japanese and South Korean militaries.

Harris also said a US missile defense system being installed in South Korea will be operational "in the coming days." The work to set up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system has angered North Korea, China and Russia.

The Chinese envoy for North Korea says China and Japan have agreed to co-ordinate in seeking to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and in urging North Korea to refrain from making further provocations.

China's special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, Wu Dawei, held talks Wednesday with his Japanese counterpart, Kenji Kanasugi, amid rising tensions and speculation that North Korea may soon carry out another nuclear or missile test.

Wu said the two sides also agreed on the importance of using peaceful means in resolving the problem. He said China opposes "war and unrest" on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills on Tuesday to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of its army, while the Japanese and South Korean navies each conducted maritime exercises with the United States.

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