style[amp-boilerplate] If Trump wants to take military action against North Korea, he may have to do it this month
TIME

If Trump wants to take military action against North Korea, he may have to do it this month

60 secs Minimum - 8 mins Maximum Read
(President Donald Trump.Win McNamee) President Donald Trump has made

it very clear that when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on

Thursday, one topic will tower above the rest: North Korea's nuclear

posturing.



But Trump, whose administration has gone further than any before it in

stressing the potential for a military strike on North Korea, may be

running out of time to determine North Korea's fate on his own terms.



As North Korea continues to test nuclear weapons and ballistic

missiles, the US nears a " point of no return," Omar Lamrani, a senior

military analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm, told

Business Insider.



Essentially, once North Korea's military perfects an intercontinental

ballistic missile that can strike the US mainland, the US would no

longer be able to launch a preemptive military attack without fear of

casualties at home, and it may then consider recognizing North Korea's

Kim Jong Un for the first time as a legitimate world leader.



But perfecting an ICBM could take years, and South Korean politics

could freeze Trump out of the conversation long before then.



"If the Trump administration is hell-bent on significantly stepping up

pressure on China and North Korea, it's going to have a serious

problem," Joel Wit, a former State



Department diplomat who cofounded 38North, a website that brings

together experts on North Korea, told Business Insider.



That problem's name is Moon Jae-in, a liberal South Korean

human-rights lawyer who is favored to win the country's May 9

presidential election.



"He is going to pursue a very different approach from President Park," Wit said,



referring to Park Guen-hye, South Korea's conservative former

president who was recently impeached and arrested after a bizarre

influence-peddling scheme came to light.



Wit said the normally ironclad alliance between the US and South Korea

could be rocked by a reversal by Moon on policy toward North Korea.

Moon is expected to pursue some kind of diplomacy with North Korea, a

strategy that has been attempted previously in the past-quarter

century to no success.



(A missile test guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an

undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on

February 13.KCNA/ Handout via Reuters)



This couldn't contrast any more with public stances from officials in

the Trump administration that the "clock has now run out" on Pyongyang

and "the United States has spoken enough about North Korea."



Wit said the clash in objectives for North Korea would create

"problems that the Chinese can take advantage of," further relegating

the US to the sidelines without the North making a single concession.



So if Trump can't convince Xi he's on the brink of war with North

Korea and muscle out some concessions, he's looking at about a

one-month window in which he could act unilaterally, before possible

responses go from bad to worse.
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