The Trump administration will brief both the Senate and the House on its strategy for North Korea Wednesday.
Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have been rising in recent weeks as the North tests ballistic missiles in violation of international restrictions and the U.S. steps up pressure on the reclusive regime through tough rhetoric and the deployment of strategic military assets.
The Trump administration — specifically Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford — will discuss the developing crisis on the Korean Peninsula with all 100 senators at the White House at 3 p.m., specifically at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door. The same four officials will brief the House of Representatives at Capitol Hill later in the day at 5 p.m., reports Reuters.
Dunford is expected to present several possibilities for “military action” during Wednesday’s meetings.
The meetings may provide some clarity regarding the new administration’s North Korea strategy. U.S. officials have offered different answers to questions about the planned course of action.
The Trump administration has repeatedly stated that “all options are on the table,” but it is unclear whether the U.S. intends to focus its efforts solely on new sanctions and pressuring China to rein in its neighbor or pursue a more aggressive policy which could involve preemptive strikes, regime change, and possible conflict. The U.S. North Korea policy is believed to focus on “maximum pressure and engagement,” but the administration has yet to provide specific details.
North Korea has denounced the briefings, as well as the upcoming United Nations Security Council meeting to be chaired by Tillerson.
“This is just a risky act little short of lighting the fuse of a total war under the present touch-and-go situation on the Korean peninsula,” wrote the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), quoting the North Korean foreign ministry.
“As the U.S. has unsheathed a dagger to stifle the DPRK at any cost, the DPRK will stand against it with a sword of justice and cut the windpipe of the U.S. imperialists by dint of the strong revolutionary forces with the nuclear force, an almighty treasured sword, as their pivot,” the foreign ministry warned.
North Korea argues that U.S. actions justify its development of increasingly-powerful weapons for a possible war.
“There is a saying that those who are fond of playing with fire are destined to perish in the flames. The same can be said of the U.S.,” the KCNA article explained.
The meeting with Congress comes one day after North Korea marked the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army with the “largest-ever” artillery drill.
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