Commentary: Prudence on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue needed as Trump marks 100 days in office

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-29 15:22:05|Editor: Tian Shaohui
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by Xinhua writer Zhu Dongyang

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. President Donald Trump's presidency marks its first 100 days on Saturday.

Recent days have seen the Trump administration soften its previous ultra-tough stance on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) nuclear plan to a somewhat measured approach.

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, defense chief James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Trump seeks to denuclearize Pyongyang by "pursuing diplomatic measures with ... regional partners," adding that "we remain open to negotiations."

Since he arrived at the White House, the new leader in Washington has repeatedly cautioned the DPRK against its nuclear ambitions. Trump's decision to bomb Syria and Afghanistan has lent some credit to his administration's threat that "all options are on the table" to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

To pressure the DPRK harder, the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group of the U.S. navy is nearing the peninsula. Washington is also mulling to slap a new round of United Nations (UN)-sponsored sanctions against the East Asian country and hinted at the possibility of placing the DPRK back on the list of the terror sponsors.

The DPRK has not budged. Sok Chol Won, a DPRK official with the country's Academy of Social Sciences, told CNN on Wednesday that as long as the United States continues its hostile acts of aggression, Pyongyang will never stop conducting nuclear and missile tests. One day earlier, Pyongyang undertook its biggest-ever live-fire exercises.

As the two adversaries seem to be locked in a tit-for-tat vicious cycle, both sides need to tread cautiously not to ignite another war in the region.

For starters, Washington may need to terminate the state of war on the Peninsula and start to seriously address Pyongyang's major security concerns so that it can rest assured that its government will not be in jeopardy once it drops its nuclear program.

The United States also needs to demonstrate flexibility in policies and tangible efforts similar to Beijing's proposals.

Also, while China is doing what it can to join the international community in cooling down the situation, the Trump administration needs to reconsider Beijing's security concerns and firm rejections against the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system Washington is installing in South Korea.

The DPRK also needs to offer a solid reason for the United States to change its punitive policy to a more communicative tone. The most pressing task for Pyongyang at the moment and beyond is to stimulate domestic economic development, not to attempt atomic blasts.

If both sides fail to make such necessary concessions, then not only will the two countries, but the whole region and the whole world end up paying a heavy price for a possible confrontation.

During his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Mar-a-Lago resort in the U.S. state of Florida earlier this month, President Trump said Xi explained Korea's history to him, which made him realize it is "not easy" to handle the situation on the Peninsula.

As the Trump administration passes the 100-day mark, it needs to further appreciate the complexity of regional tensions, and exercise enough patience and cool-headedness to join other parties concerned in navigating the tough situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Related:

Trump follows Obama-plus strategy in dealing with DPRK issue: experts

WASHINGTON, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. President Donald Trump is pursuing a policy somewhat like his predecessor Barack Obama, albeit one that is more direct, U.S. experts said.

Trump has in recent days re-directed a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group to the area in a bid to send a signal both to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and to its allies in the region, after the DPRK's recent missile test launch and heightened rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang. Full Story

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