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North Korea Threatens To Sink U.S. Carrier; China Urges Restraint

The USS Carl Vinson, seen here earlier this month, is taking part in exercises with Japanese ships in the Philippine Sea.
MC3 Matt Brown U.S. Navy
The USS Carl Vinson, seen here earlier this month, is taking part in exercises with Japanese ships in the Philippine Sea.
North Korea Threatens To Sink U.S. Carrier; China Urges Restraint
North Korea Threatens To Sink U.S. Carrier; China Urges Restraint GUEST:Stephan Haggard, professor, UC San Diego School of Global Policy & Strategy

AS TENSIONS RISE BETWEEN THE U.S. AND THE KOREA CHINA URGES RESTRAINT. IT IS UNCLEAR IF A NEW HEALTHCARE WILL GET A VOTE IN CONGRESS THIS WEEK. THIS IS KPBS MIDDAY EDITION . I AM MAUREEN CAVANAUGH, IT IS MONDAY, APRIL 24 PICK OUR TOPS DORI ON KPBS MIDDAY EDITION , CHINA IS WARNING ABOUT RETALIATION BY THE U.S., SHOULD NORTH KOREA GO THROUGH WITH ANOTHER NUCLEAR TEST. THE PLEA FOR RESTRAINT COMES AS TENSIONS ROSE THIS WEEKEND WITH NORTH KOREA THREATENING A STRIKE AGAINST THE USS CARL BENSON AIRCRAFT CARRIER GROUP HEADED TOWARD THE COUNTRY. WITH THE DETENTION OF A THIRD U.S. CITIZEN BY THE NORTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT PRESIDENT TRUMP REPORTEDLY SPOKE WITH THE CHINESE PRESIDENT AND JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER. JOINING ME IS PROFESSING HER -- PROFESSOR. HAGGARD ERIC HE IS AT THE SCHOOL OF GLOBAL POLICY AND STRATEGY AT UC SAN DIEGO. PROFESSOR. HAGGARD WELCOME TO THE SHOW. THINK YOU . NORTH KOREA HAS THREATENED U.S. NAVY STRIKE GROUP LED BY THE USS CARL BENSON. WHICH IS BASED IN SAN DIEGO. CAN YOU TELL US WHAT THEY SAID? YOU HAVE TO READ THE NORTH KOREAN STATEMENTS CAREFULLY. USUALLY THEY HAVE AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT, WHICH IS WE WILL STRIKE IF ATTACKED. THAT HAS BEEN THERE PASS LINE. THERE IS SOMETIMES A HINT THAT THEY MAY PREEMPT IF THEY FEEL THEY ARE GOING TO BE ATTACKED. THERE USUALLY TWO SIDES THAT HAVE A CONFLICT THAT TALKS ABOUT PREEMPTION THAT IS A RECIPE FOR CRISIS INSTABILITY HERE? MIND IS WHETHER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS SENDING A PROVINCE INTO WATERS NEAR NORTH KOREA. THIS IS AN LARGE PART ABOUT SIGNALING. IT IS NOT JUST TO NORTH KOREA, IT IS ALSO TO CHINA. AFTER MIRA LONGO SUMMIT, THERE WAS AN AGREEMENT WITH CHINA TO WORK TOGETHER ON BRINGING NORTH KOREA BACK TO THE TABLE TO DISCUSS THE ISSUE OF THE MILITARIZATION. WITH THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS CURRENTLY DOING IS TRYING TO COMMUNICATE THE URGENCY OF THE SITUATION TO CHINA. CHINA HAS A STRONG POLICY OF BEING OPPOSED TO NORTH KOREA'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM. QUESTION IS WHETHER IT HAS BEEN DOING ENOUGH TO REIN IN KOREA MAC. THEY WERE EXPECTED TO DO A TEST, BUT IT DID NOT HAPPEN PICKED AS THE THREAT PERSIST? OF COURSE. BECAUSE THE TESTS HAPPEN GOING FORWARD AT A PRETTY RAPID PACE. LAST YEAR THERE WERE TWO NUCLEAR TESTS. THE FACT THE NORTH KOREANS CHOSE NOT TO TEST OVER THE WEEKEND IS PROBABLY A GOOD SIGN. THAT CHINA IS IN FACT EXERCISING SOME INFLUENCE. THE CHALLENGE THE U.S. AND CHINA FACE IS NOT JUST THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM, IT IS THE DEVELOPMENT OF A MISSILE FRONT. THERE ARE FEARS THAT NORTH KOREA IS GETTING CLOSE TO BEING ABLE TO HIT THE U.S. CORRECT I THINK THE MAIN CHALLENGE IS WITHIN THE REGION. AND THAT A TRUE INTERCONNECT STILL -- INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE IS CAPABLE OF A WARHEAD IS STILL A WAYS AWAY THE CHALLENGE IS STILL THERE. THE U.S. FORCES IN THE REGION, NOT JUST AT SEA BUT ON LAND -- IT LOOKS LIKE RIGHT NOW THERE IS A CAPABILITY. PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS BEEN SPEAKING TO CHINA'S PRESIDENT ABOUT THE SITUATION WHAT ROLE DOES CHINA PLAY AND CALMING THE SITUATION? CHINA'S ROLE AS PIVOTAL PERIOD IS HAPPENED AS RESULT OF SANCTIONS IMPOSED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IS THAT NORTH KOREA'S TRADE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD HAS LARGELY DRIED UP. BY MY ESTIMATE NOW, NORTH KOREA DEPENDS ON CHINA FOR SOMETHING LIKE 90% OF THE TOTAL EXPORTS AND IMPORTS. THE PRESIDENT IS ACTUALLY RIGHT CHINA DOES HAVE INFLUENCE PICKED QUESTION FOR CHINA IS THAT NORTH KOREA SITS RIGHT ON THE BORDER. HOW MUCH LEVERAGE YOU WANT TO EXERCISE? THE MORE IT PRESSES THE MORE HE IS LIKELY TO RESIST. I AM SO PATHETIC WITH CHINA I THINK THEY ARE FACING A DIFFICULT PROBLEM. IN ADDITION TO THREATS AGAINST THE STRIKE GROUP NORTH KOREA HAS ALSO DETAINED A U.S. CITIZEN. WHAT COULD NORTH KOREA'S GOAL BE ENTERTAINING THIS PROFESSOR. THEY HAVE A LONG HISTORY OF DETAINING AMERICANS TRAVEL TO THE COUNTRY PICK USUALLY THERE IS A VIOLATION OF THE KOREAN LAW, WHICH OF COURSE IS VERY STRICT WITH RESPECT TO IDEOLOGY RELIGION, FREEDOM OF SPEECH ETC. MY SUSPICION IS THERE IS A TACTICAL MOTIVATION. BECAUSE MY KOREA IS UNDER PRESSURE. THE REGIME IS SHOWING THEY HAVE OTHER INSTRUMENTS OF LEVERAGE. I THINK THIS WILL BE DIFFICULT. THERE WILL BE TWO OTHER DETAINEES THAT HAVE RECEIVED LONG SENTENCES IN NORTH KOREAN PRISONS UNLIKE IN THE PAST THERE'S BEEN VERY LITTLE PROGRESS ON RELEASING THE TWO. CLEARLY THIS IS A CLASSIC HOSTAGE SITUATION. I'VE BEEN SPEAKING WITH POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR WITH THE SCHOOL OF GLOBAL POLICY AND STRATEGY AT UC SAN DIEGO.

North Korea could reduce a U.S. strike force to a sea wreck if it is provoked, the country's propaganda outlets said Monday, adding to tensions on the Korean Peninsula. With the threat of a nuclear test in North Korea looming and another U.S. citizen reportedly detained there, China's President Xi Jinping is urging President Trump to avoid escalating the situation.

The two leaders spoke by phone Monday, according to Chinese state media CCTV, which reports that Xi told Trump he "hopes all parties remain restrained instead of intensifying the situation."

The phone call comes amid threats from North Korea that it will sink a U.S. Navy strike group that is led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier; it also follows reports from a North Korean university that one of its lecturers, who holds U.S. and South Korean citizenship, has been detained.

"In a statement, [Pyongyang University of Science and Technology] said that its adjunct professor, 58-year-old Tony Kim, who also goes by Kim Sang-duk, was detained at the airport in Pyongyang as he was about to leave the country on Saturday local time," NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports. "The university said Kim's detention had nothing to do with his academic work. So far, North Korea has remained silent about Kim's detention."

There is wide speculation that North Korea could be planning to carry out a nuclear test on Tuesday, timed to coincide with a celebration of its military's founding anniversary.

On Monday, North Korea issued new threats against the U.S., which it accuses of plotting an invasion. From South Korea's Korea Herald comes this description of the regime's reaction to American warships sailing closer to the peninsula:

"The world would clearly see how the US' rash, arrogant aircraft carriers turn into a lump of scrap metal and gets buried at sea, and how the country vanishes from the Earth," state-run website Uriminzokkiri said.

"Our super-hard-line responses include sudden, pre-emptive strikes involving land, naval, underwater and airmobile assets."
The USS Carl Vinson's strike group is currently in the Philippine Sea, where it is taking part in joint exercises with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force, including two Japanese destroyers. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was rerouted toward North Korea earlier this month,
after initial confusion over its strike group's deployment — including a statement by President Trump that he was sending "an armada" to the Korean Peninsula.

It is not yet clear why Kim might have been detained, other than as a possible bargaining tool for North Korea in international negotiations over its nuclear program and a dire need for imports of foodstuffs, coal, and other vital supplies — the bulk of which come from China.

"China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea," President Trump said in a tweet Friday, "so, while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will."

Kim is at least the third U.S. citizen in North Korea's custody. Most recently, University of Virginia student Otto Frederick Warmbier was arrested in early 2016 and sentenced to 15 years' hard labor over allegations that he tried to steal a propaganda poster at a hotel.

Warmbier's sentence is nearly identical to that of missionary Kenneth Bae, who was released in 2014 along with his fellow American Matthew Todd Miller.

North Korea Threatens To Sink U.S. Carrier; China Urges Restraint

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