WASHINGTON, D.C. — Concerns of a global war have intensified in recent days after president Donald Trump ordered U.S. warships dispatched to waters around the Korean peninsula over the weekend.
The move follows Trump’s order to strike a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical attack launched upon Syrian civilians, reportedly by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and growing threats of nuclear attack upon the United States by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
According to a statement from the U.S. Navy, the Carl Vinson strike group, comprising an aircraft carrier, cruisers, and destroyers armed with guided missiles, were dispatched to the region to maintain “readiness”.
“The number-one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible, and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” according to U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham.
President Trump ordered the strike against Syria during his Mar-a-Lago summit with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. During the same meeting Trump declared that the U.S. would “solve” the North Korea issue on its own if China did not take designated action to do so. North Korea is considered on China’s staunchest allies.
Seemingly struck by Trump’s firm stance and swift action on the Syrian issue, Jinping agreed that something must be done in regard to North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation”(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/full-transcript-rex-tillerson-on-face-the-nation-april-9/). China, said Tillerson, has “no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become.”
Russia, however, denies the Syrian leader’s involvement in the attack upon his own people and condemned the strike to the Syrian airbase by Trump as a blow to U.S. /Russia relations.
In response, Russia said it would suspend its channel for communicating military action in Syria with Washington, which was an agreement developed between the two superpowers to ensure peace.
“Russia suspends the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring the Safety of Aviation Operations during Operations in Syria with the US,” a spokesperson for Russian leader Vladimir Putin said as he called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the matter.
The spokesperson said the U.S had staged a show of force, “not bothering to sort out anything”, and “moved military against a country which is fighting international terrorism”.
Russia, a longtime ally of Syria, says it will do whatever is necessary to ensure that Syria has the military force it needs to defend itself from future U.S. attacks.
Tillerson was expected to visit Moscow this week for a pre-arranged meeting with Russian military leaders where was is expected to push for a make or break deal on the Syrian matter. That meeting has now been cancelled as officials ponder their next steps.
“I think the Russians have played now for some time the role of providing cover for Bashar al-Assad’s behavior,” Tillerson told CBS. “The alternative explanation that the Russians put forth (that the Syrians were not the parties behind the gas attack upon the Syrian people) is simply not plausible.”
The U.S., weakened by a reduced nuclear program under former president Barack Obama, may be vulnerable to a nuclear attack if struck by North Korea first, according to a report by The Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-na-qa-missile-strike-20170405-htmlstory.html).
According to the report, The Pentagon has spent more than $40 billion on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to thwart a nuclear strike by North Korea or Iran, but there are grave doubts about whether it’s up to the task.
When asked if a preemptive nuclear strike against North Korea was being considered, a military spokesperson replied: “Everything is on the table at this point”.