On Saturday, US Vice President Mike Pence said that it is still possible to reach a peaceful outcome in regard to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula due to the new engagement of Washington with China. There have been rising fears that a new nuclear test may soon be conducted by North Korea. There is another important anniversary coming up in reclusive North Korea, which means that South Korea is on high alert as it could prove to be a trigger for the launch of ballistic missiles or a new nuclear test. Therefore, military hardware in large quantities has been amassed on both ends of the border.
In recent months, there has been increased tension after two nuclear weapons test were conducted by Pyongyang last year and also carried out a number of ballistic missile tests in violation of the United Nations sanctions and resolutions. Donald Trump, the newly elected US President, has promised to prevent North Korea from launching a nuclear missile in the United States. On Saturday, his deputy said in Sydney that warming ties between Washington and Beijing could still lead to a peaceful outcome in this conflict. Pence said that if their allies and China also add their pressure, there is a possibility that a nuclear-free Korean peninsula could exist.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Malcom Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister, Pence said that the steps taken by China so far were definitely encouraging. The Chinese had also been praised by Trump himself earlier this week for reining in North Korea after the country’s state media warned the US of a ‘super-mighty preemptive strike’. Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping was invited to Trump’s resort in Florida. Even though Trump took a hard line on North Korea, he has centered his efforts on trying to convince China in increasing more pressure on its neighbor and ally.
At the same time, Trump has also chosen to send a warning to North Korea by ordering an ‘armada’ to waters near the country. Earlier this group, there had been confusion surrounding the location of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group. It had been believed that it was heading towards Korean peninsula, but was in fact with the Australian navy, doing a training exercise. Pence said that before the end of the month, the carrier group would be off the waters near North Korea. The US Navy said on Friday that a pilot from the USS Carl Vinson had safely ejected south of the Philippines during a routine flight.
On Friday, in response to the US moves, North Korea said that the state of affairs was quite dangerous. On Tuesday, it is the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army. In the past, the country has often celebrated important events by conducting nuclear tests or launching missiles. The anniversary comes as the US and South Korea are completing their annual joint military exercises and North Korea is finishing its winter military drills.