Trump aides: Nu­clear war with N. Korea not ‘im­mi­nent’

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint -

Top Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials sought to as­sure Amer­i­cans on Sun­day that the na­tion is not on the brink of nu­clear war with North Korea, de­spite the pres­i­dent’s re­cent threats.

Na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser H.R. McMaster and Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo said an at­tack by North Korea does not ap­pear im­mi­nent, and the threat of war is no closer to­day than it was last week.

“I think we’re not closer to war than a week ago, but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago,” McMaster said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The dan­ger is much greater and is grow­ing ev­ery day, with ev­ery mis­sile test, with the con­sid­er­a­tion of pos­si­bly a sixth nu­clear test. And so what we can no longer do is af­ford to pro­cras­ti­nate.”

“I’ve heard folks talk­ing about (the U.S.) be­ing on the cusp of nu­clear war,” Pom­peo said on “Fox News Sun­day.” “I’ve seen no in­tel­li­gence that would in­di­cate that we’re in that place to­day.”

McMaster said Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ref­er­ences to the U.S. mil­i­tary be­ing “locked and loaded” were an ef­fort to main­tain peace, not pro­voke war. The mil­i­tary has made no sig­nif­i­cant move­ment of troops or equip­ment in re­cent days to pre­pare to fight North Korea.

“The United States mil­i­tary is al­ways locked and loaded, but the pur­pose of ca­pa­ble, ready forces is to pre­serve peace and pre­vent war,” he said. “Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton said it: The most ef­fec­tive way of pre­serv­ing peace is to be pre­pared for war.”

The two of­fi­cials spoke fol­low­ing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s threat last week to send mis­siles into the wa­ters off Guam, a United States ter­ri­tory in the South Pa­cific. Such a flight would take 14 min­utes, giv­ing the U.S. lit­tle time to re­spond.

Pom­peo said it would not be sur­pris­ing if North Korea sought to strengthen its nu­clear ar­se­nal and even test an­other mis­sile. While Trump wants a de­nu­cle­arized Korean Penin­sula, Pom­peo told CBS’s “Face the Na­tion,” the pres­i­dent is un­will­ing to draw red lines or pro­nounce fu­ture in­ten­tions.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion has done a fine job of not draw­ing red lines that we’re not pre­pared to en­force,” Pom­peo said.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” McMaster de­liv­ered the same mes­sage.

“The pres­i­dent doesn’t draw red lines. What he does is he asks us to make sure that we have vi­able op­tions for him, op­tions that com­bine diplo­matic, eco­nomic and mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” he said. “And so that’s what we’ve done.”

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