President Donald Trump said the country has to be “prepared for the worst” in North Korea in an interview with the Washington Examiner published Sunday.
“North Korea weighs on me, but we have to be prepared for the worst,” the president said. “We have to be prepared to do what we have to do. We cannot allow this to go on.”
The administration has repeatedly stated that “all options are on the table” when it comes to North Korea. The aim appears to be to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses through sanctions and international pressure, rather than “to his knees” through force. But without going into specifics, Trump has so far left the door open for possible military action.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” the president told CBS News’ John Dickerson on “Face the Nation” when asked about the application of military force in the event that North Korea conducts a sixth nuclear test. When reporters asked the president a similar question in Pennsylvania, Trump responded, “You’ll soon find out, won’t you?”
The use of force against North Korea could potentially trigger a full-scale conflict on the peninsula, creating a situation in which millions would perish.
Trump says he recognizes the gravity of the decisions he is making. “You can make a mistake in deals, and you work it out,” he told the Examiner. “You make a mistake here, there is nothing to work out. You know it’s trouble. It could be big trouble. And it is life-threatening trouble for lots of people, potentially.”
Since Trump took office, North Korea has launched nine ballistic missiles. The U.S. has a number of strategic military assets operating in the region. These assets include the nuclear-powered Ohio-class submarine USS Michigan and Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. North Korea has threatened to sink both recently.
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters at the White House last week. “We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”
White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday that the U.S. should be “prepared for military operations if necessary.” For the time being, though, the focus remains on tougher economic sanctions and international pressure.
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