MS Risk Blog

As Tensions Rise, US States that its Not Seeking Regime Change in North Korea

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Amidst tensions over Pyongyang’s weapons programme, the United States government confirmed this month that it is not seeking a regime change in North Korea.

Rex Tillerson stated this month “we’re not your enemy,” adding that the US wanted a dialogue at some point. A Republican senator however has contradicted this statement, saying that US President Donald Trump had told him there would be a war with North Korea if its missile programme continued.

Mr Tillerson disclosed, “we do not seek a regime change, we do not seek the collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,” referring to the border between the two Koreas, adding “we’re not your enemy, we’re not your threat but you’re presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond.” While President Trump has repeatedly criticized China, which is North Korea’s closely economy ally and which shares a land border, for not doing enough in order to stop Pyongyang’s weapons programme, Mr Tillerson took a more diplomatic approach, stating that “only the North Koreans are to blame for this situation.”   “But,” he added,” we do believe China has a special and unique relationship, because of this significant economic activity, to influence the North Koran regime in ways that no one else can.”

The statement comes after Pyongyang late last month carried out its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a test that was celebrated by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the latest to be conducted in defiance of a United Nations ban. Pyongyang has claimed that its latest missile could hit the US west coast.

In a separate development, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham stated that President Trump told him that there would be a military conflict between the two countries if Pyongyang continued with its aim to develop a missile programme with the US in its range. In an interview with NBC’s Today programme, Mr Graham stated, “there will be a war with North Korea over their missile programme if they continue to try to hit America with an ICBM,” adding “He (President Trump) has told me that, I believe him, and if I were China I would believe him too, and do something about it,” adding ‘if there’s going to be a war…it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And he (President Trump) has told me that to my face.”

Despite the ongoing tests, most experts believe that Pyongyang does not have the capability to miniaturise a nuclear warhead, fit it on a long-range missile, and ensure that it is protected until delivery to the target. They say that many of North Korea’s missiles cannot accurately hit targets. Others however believe that at the rate it is going, Pyongyang may overcome these challenges and develop a nuclear weapons within five to ten years that could strike the US.