As optimism surrounding diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula grows, a British warship arrived in Japan this week to join Japanese and US forces in policing of UN sanctions imposed on North Korea.
The Royal Navy frigate HMS Sutherland “changed its deployment, The Asahi Shimbun said Thursday, in order to drop anchor at Yokosuka, the home port of Japan’s Maritime Defense Force fleet and the US Seventh Fleet’s carrier strike group.
It “will be contributing to the international efforts to monitor prohibited trade at sea by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which provides a major source of funding for its illegal nuclear program,” the Defense Ministry was quoted by Asahi as saying.
Paul Casson, the British defense attache in Japan, told reporters in Tokyo of the involvement that “it’s about pressure.”
“She is part of an international message that is going to North Korea and for the United Kingdom to see fit to send one of its frigates, to change its deployment from Southeast Asia, is part of that very powerful message,” Casson said.
The coordinated efforts come ahead of highly-anticipated diplomatic events, including an inter-Korean summit planned for later this month, and a meet up between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expected as early as next month.
During a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, the nominee to be the next US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, emphasized the need to maintain pressure on the Kim regime until concrete, verifiable and irreversible steps toward denuclearization have been made in North Korea.
Pompeo, who is widely expected to be confirmed, said he was optimistic that the summit between Trump and Kim could “set us down the course to achieve a diplomatic outcome that America and the world so desperately need.”