But a pre-emptive strike on missile force is probably not on the table
A pre-emptive military strike against North Korea is a step so fraught with risk that it is among the unlikeliest options. »
WASHINGTON» A pre-emptive military strike may be among the “pretty severe things” President Donald Trump says he is considering for North Korea, but it’s a step so fraught with risk that it ranks among the unlikeliest options.
Even a so-called surgical strike aimed at the North’s partially hidden nuclear and missile force is unlikely to destroy the arsenal or stop its leader, Kim Jong Un, from swiftly retaliating with long-range artillery that could kill stunning numbers in South Korea within minutes.
An all-out conflict could then ensue. And while Trump’s Pentagon chief, Jim Mattis, says the U.S. would prevail, he believes it would be “a catastrophic war.”
Thursday in Poland, Trump said the time has arrived to confront North Korea. “I don’t like to talk about what I have planned, but I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,” the president said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to do them.”
Trump didn’t mention which “severe” options he is weighing after North Korea’s July 4 test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The administration has been reviewing its North Korea policy for months, having declared attempts at “strategic patience” with the North to have failed. The administration has spoken about starving North Korea of cash for its nuclear program and getting other countries to add diplomatic and economic pressure.
But Trump and his aides have not have ruled out the possibility of war with an adversary that is openly defying U.N. Security Council resolutions and threatening the United States.