Al Jazeera’s Jeremy Scahill, reporting from Washington DC, reports on the ongoing standoff between the United States and North Korea, which could take months or even years to resolve.
More than six months after the US imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang, the White House is still refusing to back down, and a senior US administration official told Al Jazeera the situation is “getting more tense”.
“The tension is increasing, but we’re going to continue to fight it out,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday.
“We’re going in there, we’re trying to have the dialogue, and we’re working with the North Koreans to try and work through their problems, but they’re still trying to make statements, and they’re continuing to threaten, and I think they’re getting more aggressive.”
Psaki said there had been no “decision-making on whether we should have military action” but that “there is a risk of escalation”.
The US and North Korean forces are holding each other’s positions and, in the event of war, the US military has the option of using nuclear weapons or a combination of nuclear and conventional weapons.
It’s not clear whether the two countries have reached an agreement, or whether the tensions are increasing and will escalate in the coming days.
Psakis said the US is “still actively engaged in dialogue with North Korea” but added that “if there’s any kind of conflict, we’ll continue to support them”.
‘We’re not a nuclear power’In a sign of the tense mood in Washington, President Donald Trump recently suggested the US was “not really on a collision course” with Pyongyang.
However, in his recent speech, Trump said the “time for talk is over”.
“I’ve just announced that the US will not engage in any negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un until the US takes a clear and firm position against North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programme,” Trump said.
Pyongyang has responded by threatening to conduct an “unprecedented and grave” military provocation against Washington.
“It’s a threat of nuclear war that we are not going to tolerate,” Kim Jong Un said in a speech on Tuesday, referring to US plans to deploy a ballistic missile defence system in Guam.
“Our people and our troops are prepared to strike any country that provokes us.
It will end in disaster for the United Republic of States and its allies,” Kim added.”
We will never accept this kind of humiliation.”