The US is willing to “compel” North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme, Donald Trump’s national security adviser has said.
H R McMaster reiterated the US President’s assertion that “all options” were open to Washington when it came to confronting the Kim regime’s rapidly advancing missile programme.
But he declined to say the US was committed to a “peaceful resolution” when questioned by a reporter.
He told the BBC: “Of course that’s what we want, but we’re not committed to a peaceful [resolution] – we’re committed to a resolution.
“We want the resolution to be peaceful, but as the president has said, all options are on the table and we have to be prepared, if necessary, to compel the denuclearisation of North Korea without the cooperation of that regime.
“The chances of war, who knows what they are? They could go up or down, I think, based on what we all decide to do. North Korea is a grave threat to all civilised people across the globe.”
Mr McMaster, a US Army general, clearly hinted at the potential for military action but did not appear to explain how the US would leverage its martial power into results.
Asked during an interview on PBS whether he still thought the chance of war was increasing “every day”, he said: “I think it is still the case. We’re out of time with this problem.
“Not out of time completely but we have a very short amount of time to be able to address the problem of North Korea.”
He declined to give details of how military action against North Korea could look, when asked how he would avoid retaliatory strikes on civilian populations by Pyongyang. He said Mr Trump “has asked us to continue to refine a military option”.
Mr McMaster added the US wanted the international community it “take all the diplomatic action, all the economic action we can to convince Kim Jong-un this is a dead end”.
US leaders fear Mr Kim’s ”intentions likely involve nuclear blackmail”, he said. He also speculated that other countries might arm try to themselves with nuclear weapons if the non-proliferation regime breaks down.
Earlier this month a UN envoy to Pyongyang told North Korean officials there was an “urgent need to prevent miscalculations and open channels to reduce the risks of conflict”.
Jeffrey Feltman, an American, was the highest-level UN official to visit the country in several years.
“He also said there can only be a diplomatic solution to the situation, achieved through a process of sincere dialogue. Time is of the essence,” the body said.