As the United States stepped up diplomatic pressure against North Korea on Saturday, national security adviser H.R. McMaster indicated America is planning for a “preventive war.”
McMaster’s comments in an MSNBC interview came as the United States sought to increase pressure on North Korea’s economic allies by seeking passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution that would ban nations from accepting coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood from North Korea.
The vote on that resolution could come Saturday.
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McMaster indicated the United States is willing to do what it takes to ensure North Korea does not gain the ability to use a nuclear weapon against America.
“What you’re asking is, are we preparing plans for a preventive war, right?” McMaster said to interviewer Hugh Hewitt. “A war that would prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon. And the president’s been very clear about it. He said he’s not gonna tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States.”
“If they have nuclear weapons that can threaten the United State, it’s intolerable from the president’s perspective. So of course, we have to provide all options to do that. And that includes a military option,” McMaster said.
McMaster said he was aware that any strike against North Korea could launch a “very costly war” that would cause immense “suffering of mainly the South Korean people.”
McMaster did not rule out any attempt against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“I think it depends on the legal justifications for that. And this goes back to just-war theory. And what is the nature of the risk? And does that risk justify acting in defense of your people and your vital interests?” he said.
“I think it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime … who murdered his own brother with nerve agent in an airport,” McMaster said. “I mean, think about what he’s done in terms of his own brutal repression of not only members of his regime, but his own family.”
One possible diplomatic effort could take place Sunday when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be at the annual Association of Southeastern Asian Nations Regional Forum, which will also be attended by high-level North Korean officials, creating the possibility of at least informal conversations between officials of the two nations.
“It will be a very important opportunity again for the United States and North Korea to send messages — unvarnished, with no middle-men — to one another about their policies,” said Mike Fuchs, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
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