President Donald Trump said Sunday that the United States is prepared to act alone if China does not take a tougher stand against North Korea's nuclear program.
Last year, North Korea carried out two nuclear tests and over two dozen of test launches using ballistic missile technology. The North Koreans know when satellites pass overhead, and they adjust their activities accordingly.
A photo taken on May 10, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) reacting as he talks to an unidentified soldier on a balcony of the Grand People's Study House during a military parade and mass rally on Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang.
President Donald Trump's top national security aides have completed a broad review of US options aimed at countering North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, a senior USA official said on Sunday.
"North Korea organized the portals just prior to conducting its previous nuclear tests, except for the fifth one".
"As a result of today's action, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of USA persons or within the United States must be blocked, and US persons are prohibited from dealing with any of the designated parties", the Treasury Department said in a release.
In talking tough about the existential threat to South Korea and Japan and to USA bases and forces in those countries as well as to parts of the US homeland itself, Rex Tillerson has made it clear that the time for further negotiations with North Korea is finally over and that military pre-emptive action is on the table as an option.
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Last week, Pyongyang warned Washington that a preemptive strike was always a possibility, after the US and South Korean military forces simulated attacks on North Korean targets during joint military drills that involve 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.
"They are trying to get a working arsenal, so the more they test, the more they learn", said Jon Wolfsthal, a senior nonproliferation adviser in the Obama administration who is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Another test is expected in the near future; however, it is impossible to predict with any accuracy when a North Korean nuclear test will occur.
He said Washington should continue to pressure China to lean on North Korea, but he was not optimistic that would lead to anything.
China has been calling for the resumption of six-nation talks on North Korea's de-nuclearisation.
The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 9, 2017.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Trump in Florida later this week. A "new approach involving more substantial pressure" than has ever been used is about to be rolled out, the official said. He even said military options would be "on the table" if the provocation escalates.