President Donald Trump’s statement Friday that military action against North Korea remains “an option” comes as Trump has already give the military the green light to shoot down any North Korean missile threateneing American interests, according to a new report.
Trump ordered Defense Secretary James Mattis to shoot down and destroy any missile launched from North Korea and moving toward the continental United States, Hawaii, and Guam, Newsmax reported.
According to Newsmax, which cited “sources close to the president’s national security team,” Trump gave the order after North Korea threatened Guam last month, a threat North Korea later backed off.
“The threat provoked the president,” one source told Newsmax.
Newsmax said its sources indicate Trump is considering a similar “shoot down” order for any North Korean missile aimed at Japan or South Korea,.
“This is a clear exercise of self-defense, and there’s no question we should do it,” former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton told the outlet.
Bolton said South Korea and Japan “are in jeopardy,” adding that the U.S. must ensure it protects them under treaty obligations.
“There is general consensus in the White House and the Pentagon that North Korea is quite close to the ‘red zone’ and that the U.S. must act soon or lose the upper hand,” one official told Newsmax.
Bolton said the U.S. is being “driven in the direction of a preemptive strike because North Korea won’t back down.”
“We are close to the finish line,” Bolton said, in a reference to the North Korean regime’s recent advancements in its development of missiles and nuclear weapons. “It highlights how little time we have here.”
Trump’s green light is important because time is of the essence in any missile attack.
“This is a game of minutes, but the initial detection of a launch would be really in terms of seconds,” Thomas Karako, senior fellow and director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Fox News.
“Keep in mind the entire flight time from North Korea to the United States is well under any hour (and) the authority is given in advance. It’s predesignated,” he added.
Karako said that the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the U.S. Strategic Command, which controls the military’s nuclear forces, would then develop a response, which could include ground-based missile interceptors that the United States tested this summer.
“I’m very confident … that this system can and will defend the homeland if attacked,” said Vice Adm. James D. Syring, the former head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
Mattis was asked Friday about the U.S. response to a missile launch.
“We’ll deal with it,” Mattis said.
But Trump was more vocal.
“Military action would certainly be an option,” Trump said at a news conference. “I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it’s something certainly that could happen.”
When Trump was asked if he would accept North Korea having nuclear weapons as long as they were “contained and deterred,” he refused to talk strategy.
“I don’t put my negotiations on the table, unlike past administrations. I don’t talk about them. But I can tell you North Korea is behaving badly and it’s got to stop,” he said.
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