World War 3: North Korea Seeks ASEAN Help
North Korea is asking for support from the ASEAN to help prevent what it called a “nuclear holocaust,” at the same time US President Donald Trump has warned of the possibility of a “major conflict” in the Korean Peninsula if diplomacy fails.
Donald Trump meanwhile told Reuters that there is “chance” of a major conflict in the region.
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters. “We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”
The North Korean plea to ASEAN comes amid escalating tensions in the region. Just this week, the South Korean and US militaries held a combined firing drill in Pocheon featuring dozens of tanks and fighter jets. The military exercises came only a day after North Korea held its own firing maneuvers in Wonsan.
The US has meanwhile launched its Minuteman III ICBM to demonstrate its “nuclear capabilities.” In addition, a US nuclear submarine armed with guided missiles made a port call in South Korea on Tuesday, while a carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson approached the potential conflict theater.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China agreed to impose unilateral sanctions should Pyongyang carry out another nuclear test.
“And in fact we were told by the Chinese that they informed the regime that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own,” Tillerson told Fox News without elaborating.
“We’re going to be discussing what next steps may be necessary to increase the pressure on the regime,” Tillerson added. “We do not seek regime change in North Korea. What we are seeking is the same thing China has said they seek – a full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
Washington’s actions and rhetoric are pushing the region to the “brink of war,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho wrote in a letter to ASEAN’s chief Le Luong Minh from Vietnam.
“As you know, due to the annual war games in South Korea conducted by the United States and South Korea, the situation in the Korean Peninsula is out of control,” the letter, seen by AFP and dated April 23 reads.
“It is a fact clear to everyone that when they deploy the means of nuclear strike that can drive the Korean Peninsula into a nuclear holocaust in just seconds… the nature of such exercises can in no way be defensive.”
North Korea wrote the letter just ahead of the 30th Asean Summit taking place in Manila on April 26-28. The letter also attempted to justify North Korea’s effort to develop its own nuclear arsenal as the only means of a deterrent against the United States.
North Korea’s chief diplomat urged the ASEAN chief to inform the 10-nation organization’s foreign ministers “about the grave situation” and to develop a “proper proposal” on how to preserve peace on the Peninsula.
“I express my expectations that ASEAN which attaches great importance to the regional peace and stability will make an issue of the US-South Korean joint military exercises at ASEAN conferences from the fair position and play an active role in safeguarding the peace and safety of Korean Peninsula,” Ri Yong-ho wrote.
The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, reported that its foreign ministry sent a dispatch to the ASEAN Secretariat on April 4, in which they also addressed the issue of the war games being conducted by the US and South Korea.