The world has been on the edge since Donald J. Trump joined the two most controversial political figures; Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un, as the 46 President of the United States on 20 January, 2016. The recent tension in diplomatic circle seems to be proving bookmakers right. OMONU YAX-NELSON writes.
When Donald John Trump attained the 270 Electoral College votes needed to be elected as President of the United States on the morning of 9 November, 2016, not a few bookmakers were left in doubt as to the ‘delicate balance’ of future nuclear threat.
The apprehension is born out of the genuine concern for the emotional instability the three most powerful men in global politics –Trump, Putin and Jong-Un. Before the emergence of Trump, Putin, the enigmatic and recalcitrant President of Russian and the dreaded North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un were considered the imminent threat to global peace.
On the other hand, the egg-head African-American President of the US, Barack Obama was seen as the moral stabilizer of global political aggression, with his least disposition to the use of force and preference for the use of diplomacy.
The late anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela once observed that “The more informed you are, the less arrogant and aggressive you are.” On this premise, Experts observed that, Trump is politically inexperienced, coupled with his explosive campaign rhetoric, he may be susceptible to political arrogance.
Trump did not prove bookmakers wrong, when on 7 April, he ordered a military strike on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians’ penultimate week.
President Trump ordered US warships to launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks,
Experts says, the strike represents a substantial escalation of the US military campaign in the region, and could be interpreted by the Syrian government as an act of war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described the US airstrikes on Syria as “an act of aggression against a sovereign state” that “dealt a serious blow to Russia-US relations,” according to a Kremlin statement.
Russia responded by saying, it will reinforce Syria’s air defences and, as reported previously, is sending a missile carrying warship to the eastern Mediterranean in response to a US cruise missile strikes on a Syrian government airbase.
The Russian ministry of defence said in a statement that “to protect key Syrian infrastructure a range of measures will be taken reinforce and improve the effectiveness of the Syrian armed forces air defence.” The announcement came as the Admiral Grigorevich, a cruise missile carrying frigate, passed through the Bosporus en-route to Russia’s Syrian navy base at Tartus.
To demonstrate that it is no longer business as usual at the White House, Trump ordered the so-called Mother of All Bombs, first tested, in 2003, the largest conventional weapon in the United States arsenal be dropped on an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province, along the border with Pakistan, Fourteen years after it was deemed ready to use.
Also, Mr Trump has threatened unilateral action against the North Korea (hermit state), a threat that appears more palpable after last Thursday’s strike on a Syrian airfield following an apparent chemical attack.
In what analysts see as a show of force, the US sent a carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula against North Korea’s “reckless” nuclear weapons programme.
The move aggravated tensions in the region and follows a US missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as putting Pyongyang on warning over its refusal to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
“US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson strike group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the western Pacific,” said Commander Dave Benham, spokesman at US Pacific Command.
“The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” he said.
Scheduled to make port calls in Australia, the strike group – which includes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson – is now headed from Singapore to the western Pacific Ocean.
In response to the US deployment, Kim In Ryong accused the Trump administration of turning the Korean peninsula into “the world’s biggest hotspot” and creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.”
He told a news conference on Monday that US-South Korean military exercises being staged now are the largest-ever “aggressive war drill.”
He said North Korea’s measures to bolster its nuclear forces are self-defensive “to cope with the US vicious nuclear threat and blackmail.” He says his country “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US.”
Meanwhile, the Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says North Korea is a threat to Australia. “The North Korean regime is a threat to the peace of the region.
It is a threat to all of its neighbours in the region, and if it were able to develop a missile that could travel as far as the United States with a warhead, or as far as Australia, then it obviously could threaten Australia and, indeed, the United States.”
North Korea has threatened to carry out weekly missile tests amid rising military tensions with the US over the rogue state’s nuclear ambitions.
“We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-Ryol told the BBC in Pyongyang.
He threatened an “all-out war” if the US was “reckless enough to use military means”.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang’s deputy UN ambassador blamed the US for the spike in tensions.
Pyongyang is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests – two of them last year.
Satellite imagery suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth, with US intelligence officials warning that Pyongyang could be less than two years away from developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental United States.
North Korea on Wednesday fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan ahead of a US-China summit.
In February, the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan, in what it said was a drill for an attack on US bases in the neighbouring Asian country.
Last August, Pyongyang also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile 500 kilometres towards Japan, far exceeding any previous sub-launched tests, in what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hailed as the “greatest success”.
Recently, US president Donald Trump hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for talks during which he pressed Pyongyang’s key ally to help curb the North’s nuclear weapons programme.
The head of North American Aerospace Defence Command, which provides missile detection for the region, said on Thursday she was “extremely confident” of US capability to intercept a potential intercontinental ballistic missile bound for the US from the North.
But General Lori Robinson expressed concerns for the type of ballistic missile powered by a solid-fuel engine that Pyongyang said it successfully tested in February.
“Amidst an unprecedented pace of North Korean strategic weapons testing, our ability to provide actionable warning continues to diminish,” Gen Robinson said in written testimony to senators.
And while a US unilateral strike on North Korea from a shorter range might be more militarily effective, it likely would endanger many civilians in South Korea, experts warn.
The isolated North is barred under UN resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology.