Trump Administration officials were quick to address North Korea today with a statement which has been a a favorite for several administration – “all options are on the table.” Yet the rest of the official comments on North Korea made it clear this was not the case, with officials openly confirming they don’t consider diplomacy a “viable” option at all.
All of this is coming up today because China, which has been pushing the US and North Korea toward diplomacy for years, made a proposal that the US would halt its South Korea wargames in return for North Korea stopping development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. North Korea never had a chance to respond, because the US dismissed the idea out of hand more or less immediately.
South Korean officials jumped the gun and ruled the deal out even before the US did, insisting that the annual wargames, simulating a joint US-South Korean invasion of the north, are “purely defensive in nature,” and that trying to link them to North Korea’s program is “unacceptable.”
North Korea has insisted for years that its development of such weapons are a response to the ever-growing annual wargames, so while US and South Korean officials insist it is “unfair” for China to link the two, they are clearly not unrelated.
The problem, rather is that as with North Korea’s proposal to scrap its program for a peace deal ending the 1950s Korean War, the US government doesn’t want to make a deal, and remains comfortable with the status quo, which keeps large numbers of US troops deployed in the Korean Peninsula.