Trump Threatens "Bigger Than Ever" War Games If Korea Talks Fail; Blames China

President Donald Trump threatened that he could begin joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan that will be "far bigger than ever" if progress stalls on North Korea nuclear talks. Trump also blamed Beijing for the lack of progress on North Korea’s denuclearization, saying China has put North Korea “under tremendous pressure” in response to the trade war Trump between the two nations.

The president issued the warning in a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon which he described as a White House statement, after complaining that China was hindering the negotiations due to trade disputes with the U.S.

The White House statement, said that the US President “feels strongly” that Pyongyang has been a subject of “tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese Government” and went on to allege that Beijing continues to provide various types of assistance to the North, including "money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities.”thus effectively undermining the US policy of “maximum pressure.”

The White House statement asserted that China is providing Pyongyang with “considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities.”

Despite the White House’s failure to reach progress in implementing the loosely worded agreement between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Trump, reached at the bilateral summit in June, the statement stresses that Trump believes his relationship with Kim is a “very good and warm one, and there is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint US-South Korea war games.”

The statement notes that should the need arise “the President can instantly start the joint exercises again,” both with South Korea and Washington's other top regional ally, Japan. As with many things Trump, the restarted wargames would be “far bigger than ever before,” the US president warned.

After effectively accusing the Chinese government of foul play on the Korean peninsula, the statement then concludes by saying the bitter trade dispute between the US and China “will be resolved in time” by Trump and “China’s great President Xi Jinping.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump told reporters at the White House negotiations with North Korea are “doing well,” but “China makes it much more difficult.”

The statement comes after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis indicated earlier this week that although several major US drills with South Korea had been suspended as an act of goodwill, the Pentagon has “no plans to suspend any more.”

In fact, according to South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo, the U.S. and South Korea internally decided to hold annual air force exercise called Vigilent ACE in December.  U.S. military personnel from America and other overseas bases will participate in joint drill, the paper reported adding that the decision was made before Defense Sec. James Mattis said on Aug. 28 U.S. won’t suspend more joint military drills with South Korean forces.

Trump's announcement comes just days after Trump called off a trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, saying there hadn’t been enough progress in talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. In a series of tweets Friday, Trump said Pompeo would likely return to North Korea after U.S. trade disputes with China were resolved.

North Korea, which has long been irritated by the joint wargames, recently accused Washington of “double-dealing.” The ruling party's official newspaper reported that the US contingent stationed in Japan has been rehearsing an invasion into North Korea by “staging secret drills involving man-killing special units” while the White House has been "having a dialog with a smile on its face.”

While there has been little progress on North Korea since the milestone summit in June, no effort to end the escalating trade war between the US and China has borne fruit. The recent talks between American and Chinese officials ended without a breakthrough, and it was reported that no follow-up meetings have been scheduled. In the meantime, China vowed to respond “resolutely” to “the unreasonable measures” taken by the US.

The U.S. has been leaning heavily on China to help enforce tougher sanctions imposed last year against Kim Jong Un’s regime because the country is Pyongyang’s largest trading partner and shares a border with the isolated nation. China “is the route to North Korea,” Trump said Wednesday.

The trade war between the U.S. and China is primed to escalate further after their governments failed to make progress in two days of talks last week. The two sides had met with low expectations for the meetings and no further talks had been scheduled, a person familiar with the discussions said.

In the past week, while the two sides were talking, the U.S. slapped tariffs on a further $16 billion in Chinese imports. Retaliation by Beijing will bring the amount of trade affected by the dispute to $100 billion, with more to come. Looming now are new tariffs that Trump has threatened to impose on some $200 billion in annual imports from China, and Beijing’s already-promised retaliation.

“I don’t like to call it a trade war,” Trump said Wednesday according to Bloomberg.