North Korea threat ‘man­age­able’: Kelly

The Welland Tribune - - WORLD NEWS -

MATTHEW PEN­NING­TON

WASH­ING­TON — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Thurs­day the North Korean nu­clear and mis­sile threat is “man­age­able” for now but the iso­lated na­tion can’t be al­lowed to de­velop the abil­ity to strike the U.S. home­land.

Although U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­cently de­clared his top diplo­mat was “wast­ing his time” try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with the North, Kelly said he hopes diplo­macy works be­fore the na­tion can de­velop its weapons ca­pa­bil­i­ties fur­ther.

Kelly com­ments at a White House news con­fer­ence were milder than Trump’s re­cent pro­nounce­ments. Over the past three weeks the pres­i­dent has ex­changed threats and per­sonal in­sults with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions.

Kelly said that Amer­i­cans should be con­cerned about North Korea. He said the North has de­vel­oped a “pretty good” in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile ca­pa­bil­ity and is de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear re-en­try ve­hi­cle, which is needed for a mis­sile to sur­vive re-en­try into the Earth’s at­mos­phere. Then he spelled out a bot­tom line.

“I think I speak for the ad­min­is­tra­tion, that that state can sim­ply not have the abil­ity to reach the home­land,” Kelly said.

He said there’s al­ready “great con­cern” about Amer­i­cans who live in Guam. North Korea in Au­gust threat­ened to fire a salvo of in­ter­me­di­ate range mis­siles to­ward the U.S. Pa­cific is­land ter­ri­tory, a ma­jor mil­i­tary hub and home to U.S. bombers that pe­ri­od­i­cally fly mis­sions over the di­vided Korean Penin­sula.

“Right now we think the threat is man­age­able,” he said, but added the sit­u­a­tion would be­come more prob­lem­atic over time if North Korea’s ca­pa­bil­ity “grows beyond where it is to­day.”

“Let’s hope that diplo­macy works,” he said.

Trump on Wed­nes­day con­ceded dif­fer­ences on North Korea with Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, who ad­vo­cates keep­ing open the pos­si­bil­ity of ne­go­ti­a­tions with Kim’s au­thor­i­tar­ian govern­ment.

“I think per­haps I feel stronger and tougher on that sub­ject than other peo­ple,” Trump said in the Oval Of­fice. “But I lis­ten to ev­ery­body and ul­ti­mately I will do what’s right for the United States and re­ally what’s right for the world,” he said, adding, “it’s a prob­lem that has to be solved.”

Trump has hinted at a pref­er­ence for mil­i­tary op­tions, although a strike on North Korea could leave close U.S. ally South Korea vul­ner­a­ble to North Korean mil­i­tary re­tal­i­a­tion.

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