US and allies weigh options on North Korea
The United States, its allies and China are working together on a range of responses to North Korea’s latest attempted ballistic missile test, US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser says.
“We are working together with our allies and partners and with the Chinese leadership to develop a range of options,” H.R. McMaster said on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday.
“This latest missile test just fits into a pattern of provocative and destabilising and threatening behaviour on the part of the North Korean regime,” McMaster said.
He said the president had asked the national security council to integrate the efforts of the Defence and State departments and US intelligence agencies to develop options if “this pattern of behaviour continues and if the North Korean regime refuses to denuclearise.”
“There is an international consensus now, including the Chinese leadership, that this is a situation that just cannot continue,” McMaster said.
The North Korean missile “blew up almost immediately” after its test launch on Sunday, the US Pacific Command said.
Hours later US Vice President Mike Pence landed in South Korea for talks on the North’s increasingly defiant arms program, a day after a military parade in Pyongyang included what appeared to be new long-range ballistic missiles.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has rebuffed admonitions from China and proceeded with nuclear and missile programs seen by Washington as a direct threat.
Pence, addressing an Easter service with American troops in South Korea, said the US commitment to South Korea was unwavering.
The US nuclear-powered Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group is heading to the region.
China has spoken out against North Korea’s weapons tests and has supported UN sanctions. It has repeatedly called for talks while appearing increasingly frustrated with the North.
China banned imports of North Korean coal on February 26, cutting off its most important export.
Pyongyang has conducted missile and nuclear tests in defiance of UN sanctions, and regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and the US.
“The president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons,” McMaster told ABC.
But McMaster, speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan, acknowledged the likelihood of North Korean retaliation if Washington uses military force in an attempt to stop its weapons programs. “What (is) particularly difficult about – about dealing with this regime, is that it is unpredictable,” he said.
“It’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully,” he said.
The North has warned of a nuclear strike against the United States if provoked. It has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland US but experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology, including miniaturising a nuclear warhead.