“Ensuring diplomatic and political options remains a priority unless North Korea would unbelievably make (a) military provocation,” Zhu Feng, a professor in international relations at China’s Nanjing University, said at a forum in Seoul hosted by the South Korean Unification Ministry on Tuesday.
“For that purpose, the Trump Administration needs to refrain from any pre-emptive military strike vis-a-vis North Korea,” he said.
Following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test in September, US President Donald Trump said the US is “totally prepared” for military action against the North, if the situation surrounding the nuclear issue escalates.
Trump’s statement coupled with Pyongyang’s threats to drop a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean sparked worries of a possible US pre-emptive attack amid heightened military tension on the Korean Peninsula.
“Despite (the US’) military capability to ‘totally destroy’ Pyongyang, the consequences of unprovoked military option would notably lead to huge casualties and damages to North Korea’s neighbor countries as well as North Korean people, who have suffered so dearly (under its leader) Kim Jong-un’s desperation.”
Zhu referred to South Korea and China as examples of the North’s neighboring countries.
The expert also emphasized an approach of dialogue and sanctions to lure Pyongyang back to dialogue for denuclearization.
“To be successful, the strategy must be directed not only at denuclearization, but also at abolition of Cold War-like hostility on the Korean Peninsula,” Zhu said.
“Talking with North Korea while persistently maintaining full-fledged sanctions to strand it from any financial income is what the international community should unchangeably insist on,” he added.
The expert said that if the rogue regime refuses to comply with the current set of United Nations Security Council sanctions and continue with its nuclear and missile tests, China must completely cut off its oil trade with the North.
In September, Beijing ordered the shutdown of North Korean-owned businesses and ventures with Chinese partners, shortly following its decision to cut off gas and limit shipments of refined petroleum products.
But crude oil was not mentioned, although it makes up the bulk of Chinese energy supplies to North Korea and is not covered by the UN sanctions.
“If Pyongyang continues to return with more nuclear tests or ICMBs tests, a full cut of oil supplies must be adopted to keep screwing up Pyongyang,” the expert said.
“Pyongyang’s continuity of testing its nuclear bomb or ICBM might cost it to lose all (of its) ‘China connections.’”
Zhu also stressed the importance of a trilateral bond among Seoul, Washington, and Beijing, and said the three nations must leave issues concerning the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a US missile defense system, behind to achieve complete denuclearization of North Korea.
“Assertion of the ‘shared responsibilities’ could serve as the good ground to stand for closer cooperation and collaboration between China, the United States and Korea as such to achieve the end of denuclearization,” he said.
“(The three nations) must leave the THAAD issue behind and work effectively with (North Korea problems).”
By Jung Min-kyung (email@example.com)