WASHINGTON – White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday that North Korea is improving its weapons with every test and that the potential for armed conflict grows each passing day.
“I think it’s increasing every day, which means we’re in a race,” McMcaster told Fox News’ Brett Baier during an interview at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif. Baier had asked if “the potential of war with North Korea had increased” since its Nov. 28 test of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile.
“… There are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict but it is a race because he’s getting closer and closer and there’s not much time left,” said McMaster, noting that China could further pressure North Korea by cutting off oil transfers.
Trump administration policy is that North Korea will not be permitted to possess a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. Last week Defense Secretary Jim Mattis rejected the notion that diplomacy had failed to resolve the crisis with North Korea, and said that diplomatic efforts continue.
Asked if there is a military solution to the crisis that does not include the death of tens of thousands of South Koreans, McMaster did not address the question. He instead said that North Korea has held its population hostage, and that “there’s no military course of action that comes without risk.”
He said North Korea’s hostile actions had pushed U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan “closer together” and strengthened the resolve of the international community.
McMaster said it will be safe for Americans to attend the February 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. He also noted President Donald Trump’s promise to invest in the military and South Korea’s robust economic growth following the Korean War as compared with North Korea’s.
Speaking Sunday during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, McMaster said the U.S. would not coexist with a nuclear-armed North Korea under the promise of mutually assured destruction because the U.S. would not “bet the farm or a U.S. city on the decision-making, rational decision-making, of Kim Jong Un.”
“This is a regime that has never met a weapon that it hasn’t proliferated. This is a regime that said clearly what its intentions are. Its intentions are to use that weapon for nuclear blackmail and then to quote reunify the peninsula under the red banner,” McMaster said.
Also on Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he plans to ask the Pentagon to stop sending military dependents to South Korea and to extract the family members who are in the country. Graham said the Trump administration’s policy of denying North Korea a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting U.S. means that preemptive war might be necessary.
North Korea has said that its nuclear weapons target is no other country but the U.S. and that it does not intend to negotiate with the U.S. until it has fully demonstrated its nuclear deterrent capabilities.