Tensions rise as US sends nuclear submarine to South Korean port
President Trump to brief US senate on North Korea at a meeting in the White House
Tensions over North Korea increased on Tuesday as the United States moved a submarine to a South Korean port and North Korea marked the 85th anniversary of its army’s foundation with a series of military drills.
The USS Michigan, one of four US submarines capable of launching cruise missiles, will join the incoming fleet of US warships led by the USS Carl Vinson, which is making its way to waters near North Korea. The fleet became embroiled in controversy after it emerged it had carried out exercises in the Pacific despite the White House signalling it had been redirected towards the Korean Peninsula.
In a highly unusual move, the Trump administration confirmed that the entire US senate will be briefed on North Korea at a meeting in the White House on Wednesday. Defence secretary James Mattis and secretary of state Rex Tillerson are due to brief the nation’s 100 senators on the situation in North Korea. Most senators are expected to attend, with the meeting scheduled to take place in a specially secured auditorium in the White House complex.
Mr Trump has warned the rogue nuclear state that he is prepared to examine all options in countering the nuclear threat. The issue was discussed during a meeting between Mr Trump, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and around a dozen UN ambassadors earlier this week in the White House.
“The status quo in North Korea is unacceptable,” the US president said at the meeting. “The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.”
As the United States deployed the submarine to South Korea, North Korea conducted five live-fire drills on Tuesday, and warned that it would continue to defend itself against “American imperialists”.
Flynn broke law
Meanwhile, fresh controversy over Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s connections with Russia surfaced on Tuesday after the chairs of the House Oversight Committee said that Mr Flynn had likely broken the law by failing to disclose foreign income earned from Russia and Turkey.
“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else,” said the chair of the committee Jason Chaffetz. “And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for a violation of law.”
Mr Chaffetz, and his Democratic counterpart Elijah Cummings, also said that the White House had failed to turn over documents related to Mr Flynn to the inquiry. But the White House disputed this. “Every documents they asked for – my understanding is they got,” press secretary Sean Spicer said, noting that some of the documents were retained by the Department of Defence.
Both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate are conducting investigations into Russian meddling in the US elections. The FBI confirmed last month that a probe into the Trump election campaign team and Russia was ongoing
Mr Flynn previously asked for immunity in order to testify at the committees but this was refused. The former head of the CIA was dismissed by the US president after less than three weeks in the job after failing to disclose conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Mr Trump was inaugurated.
As the president approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency this weekend, the White House is due to unveil a tax reform package on Wednesday.