A senior administration official said military preparations are underway in the chance that they become necessary regarding North Korea.
All 100 senators were invited to attend a rare, closed-door briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis at the White House Wednesday so the administration could communicate “the seriousness of the threat posed by North Korea.” An official who briefed reporters next door while it was underway said North Korea is a “brutal, unpredictable and capable regime that possesses an increasing possibility of destruction.”
“What you’ve seen is a really integrated effort to prioritize diplomatic and informational aspects of national power, but also what you will see soon is using the economic dimension of national power, as well as the military preparations that are underway,” the official said.
The official said there is a new level of threat posed by the “unacceptable and erratic and unlawful behavior of the Kim Jong Un regime.”
“What we are endeavoring to do is work with partners in the region and others to isolate the North Korean ballistic missile program and the nuclear program from any sort of external support,” the official continued. “If you just look at the images from the big parade there recently, and look at the complexity of that equipment — those components, even the tires, are not made in North Korea. It’s clear that all of us have a lot more to do to isolate the regime from its access to the kind of materials and technologies it needs to advance those dangerous programs.”
The official would not describe the military preparations “in any detail,” but did say the U.S. is prepared to respond to any provocations.
“We are looking at a broad range of options,” the official added. “What the president has done is make a decision for us to pursue a certain course, but that course has a number of options depending on how the situation develops.”
The aide also noted that the White House is considering putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Speaking with reporters afterwards, Sen. Chris Coons described the briefing with senators as “sobering.”