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