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Cameron professor says North Korea issues could impact SWOK

(Source ABC) (Source ABC)

LAWTON OK, (KSWO) - An assistant professor at Cameron University says recent trouble between the United States and North Korea could directly impact those that call southwest Oklahoma home.

Tensions remain high between the United States and North Korea, with North Korea recently claiming that comments made by the Trump were a declaration of war.

Assistant professor Wendy Whitman Cobb said the situation in North Korea is serious and people should be aware of what's going on, but that said, she doesn't think people should be fearful, saying there is still a long way to go before any sort of military conflict.

Whitman Cobb said because many in southwest Oklahoma have friends and loved ones stationed at Ft. Sill and Altus Air Force Base, the recent talks of war may increase their level of concern.

"We probably know someone who has been stationed in Korea or is currently stationed in Korea and that, of course, is worrying. They are in the way of potential nuclear war should conflict break out,” Whitman Cobb said.

Whitman Cobb said the relationship between the United States and North Korea has been a strained one for decades, but under the Trump Administration, things seem to have gotten worse. She said that's partially because North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, is testing out the new administration to see what he can get away with. But it's also because of comments that both Kim Jong Un and President Trump have been making towards each other.

"The president has started to call Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man”, a phrase that he used at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week,” Whitman Cobb said. “In return, Kim Jong Un called the President a barking dog, a doddered."

Whitman Cobb said right now, all of the focus should be on avoiding war, which starts with the leaders of the two nations cutting back on the insults they've been throwing at one another. But in addition to that, she said diplomatic talks between the two countries, as well as China and other world leaders, will be necessary.

"China is probably the country that contributes the most to Kim Jong Un's regime,” Whitman Cobb said. “They have recently announced they are cutting off oil supply at a fairly significant amount. It remains to be seen whether China can put pressure on it but definitely ratcheting down the rhetoric and increasing diplomatic efforts are going to be the best means of avoiding a military conflict."

As for how the relationship between the United States and North Korea got to this point? Well, Whitman Cobb said there's plenty of blame to go around.

"The position of the US in the past has been sort of what they call strategic patience, try to wait out the regime in North Korea,” Whitman Cobb said. “Obviously, that hasn't worked so there is blame on past administrations, Republican and Democrat alike. There is blame on the current administration for the rhetoric that's being used, there is blame on the North Koreans for continuing to advance their nuclear capacity."

As for North Korea's claims that Trump's words and actions are a declaration of war, Whitman Cobb said that is simply false. She said the White House has denied any declaration of war and added that according to The Constitution, only Congress has the authority to declare war. 

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