On Tuesday, a White House official said North Korea may use its nuclear weapons as “an instrument of blackmail to achieve [its] goals,” such as forcing the United States to abandon South Korea so it can take over the Korean Peninsula.
Matt Pottinger, the Asia director on President Trump’s National Security Council, said that although North Korea has used its military to protect its communist regime for decades, it may now want to use its nuclear weapons as protection, as well.
During a conference in Washington, Pottinger said, “They have made no secret in conversations they have had with former American officials, for example, and others that they want to use these weapons as an instrument of blackmail to achieve other goals, even including perhaps coercive reunification of the Korean Peninsula one day.”
Potter explained that North Korea also wants the U.S. “to leave the peninsula and abandon our alliances.”
North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development is already a threat to South Korea and Japan, and they continue to conduct tests in an attempt to put the U.S. within striking range.
Pottinger confirmed that the U.S. is not seeking a regime change in North Korea but currently has warships in the region to deter the North from conducting additional nuclear tests. In addition, the U.S. is focusing on China to increase pressure on the country to isolate it, economically.
Pottinger said, “We really have no choice but to increase pressure on North Korea to diplomatically isolate them, to bring a greater economic pain to bear until they are willing to make concrete steps to start reducing that threat.”
Pottinger’s comments come the day after President Trump said he would meet with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un under the right circumstances. In addition, the president called North Korea his biggest foreign policy concern and said, although he would prefer not to, he would draw a red line with Kim if it became a necessity.
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