A story on Chinese state-run television urged both North Korea and the United States to “ remain calm and observe restraint.”
President Trump addressed the growing tensions on the peninsula on Twitter Tuesday morning, saying that the U.S. would take action if the Chinese could not exert its influence and stop the Kim regime’s nuclear tests and rocket tests.
“North Korea is looking for trouble,” Trump tweeted. “China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!”
North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
The escalating rhetoric comes as the U.S. struggles with how to put an end to the growing threat from North Korean missiles to the U.S. and its allies in the region, including Japan and South Korea. During a recent meeting, China and the Trump administration agreed to keep talking about the North Korea situation. China is urging the U.S. to directly engage with the nuclear-armed regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Over the weekend, the head of U.S. forces in the Pacific made the unusual move of announcing that he was canceling planned port visits in Australia for Vinson and her escorts and redeploying the carrier to the waters near the Korean Peninsula. The release did not mention Korea specifically, but officials told Navy Times the move was a message to both nervous allies and to the North Korean regime.
The Kim regime has launched about half a dozen missiles since Trump took office in January, which is seen as a test of the new administration. One missile failed and the others plunged into the Sea of Japan without causing any damage.
The carrier strike group brings with it a ton of firepower, including the strike and air-combat capabilities of the Hornets, early warning radars, electronic-warfare capabilities and more than 300 missile tubes on the carrier’s escorts.
North Korea, for its part, responded to news of the carrier’s redeployment with predictable bluster, warning of “catastrophic consequences."
"We will hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions,” according to a statement from its foreign ministry.
The rising threat has prompted the U.S. and South Korean governments to agree to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system, known as THAAD, designed to shoot down missiles. That prompted strenuous Chinese opposition and widespread anxiety over the move in South Korea itself. North Korea's missiles are already capable of striking many key U.S. allies, including Japan and South Korea.
Experts warn that the tests show North Korea is getting closer to its goal of producing a nuclear-tipped rocket able to reach the United States, and that it's working on solid rocket fuel that can enable a launch with very short notice.
Many see that as an unacceptable situation. The Trump administration has been floating the possibility of preemptive strikes, but China is pushing the U.S. to engage in direct diplomacy with Kim's government to try and get it to halt its missile development.