The United States national security adviser told reporters on Friday the country has not ruled out any military option on North Korea, following the deployment of a ballistic missile over Japan.
North Korea launched a ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Friday, in a clear act of defiance against the international community. The Kim Jong Un-ruled country has launched two missiles over Japanese territory and carried a nuclear bomb test in the last month.
Although the country has been widely condemned by the international community and sanctioned by the United Nations, the authoritarian regime continues threatening neighboring countries and the U.S.
McMaster says the U.S. has not ruled out military action against North Korea
In light of Friday’s events, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said on Friday that the U.S. isn’t ruling out a military option against the Asian country.
“For those who have said, and been commenting about a lack of a military option, there is a military option,” McMaster told reporters, according to CNN. “Now, it is not what we would prefer to do.”
During the same press conference, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said that if further sanctions and diplomatic pressure on North Korea don’t work, the UN won’t be able to do much more.
“So, having said that, I have no problem with kicking it to (Defense Secretary) Gen. James Mattis because I think he has plenty of options,” said Haley.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said he felt “confident” after seeing the Air Force’s capabilities and commitment, noting that their options in addressing the North Korean threats are “both effective and overwhelming.”
Friday’s missile test came after the release of a statement Wednesday, in which North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said the four islands of the Japanese archipelago “should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche.” The launch was possibly also carried to send a direct message to the U.S. since the flying distance of the missile was equivalent to the distance from North Korea to Guam, the U.S. territory that has constantly been threatened by Kim’s regime.
The ballistic missile flew an estimated 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles), reaching an altitude of 770 kilometers (480 miles), before hitting the Pacific Ocean. About 3,380 kilometers (2,100 miles) separate Guam from North Korea.
Experts ponder what kind of pressure would deter Kim Jong Un
KCNA reported that, after the launch, Kim told top military officials that the final goal of Pyongyang’s actions is “to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about a military option for the DPRK,” (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).
The North Korean news agency also said Kim stressed the need to run at full speed and straight, to consolidate “the military attack capacity for a nuclear counterattack the U.S. cannot cope with.”
While the U.N. has placed sanctions on the Asian country, Kim Jong-Un does not show any signs of backing out on his desires to begin a nuclear war. Experts say it is unclear which kind of sanction or diplomatic pressure would work as a deterrent to the North Korean ruler.
A senior U.S. official said the problem in relying on a deterrence theory is that no one knows what would inflict pressure on Kim, according to CNN. The military says that Kim’s top priority, possibly, would be his preservation and that of his family.
However, as tensions run higher by the week, the Trump administration is concerned about the future actions of the Asian nation. Defense Secretary Mattis said earlier this month that the president had been updated on all possible options.
“Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies, will be met with a massive military response – a response both effective and overwhelming,” Mattis said earlier this month, according to CNN.
North Korea has artillery tubes pointed at the South’s capital
A military option in North Korea would be difficult. Officials say that to get into the country to attack any known nuclear or missile sites, the U.S. would have to rely on cruise missiles and fighter jets to begin attacking air defense missile and radar sites.
U.S. officials are trying to find a way to destroy thousands of artillery tubes and weapons the regime has arrayed north of the demilitarized zone.
“There are literally thousands of tubes of artillery along the demilitarized zone that are aimed south, some of them directly at Seoul,” said Col. Steve Warren, a former Pentagon spokesman. “And, frankly, some of these artillery pieces are very simple, it’s simply an old-fashioned cannon that cannot be jammed, it cannot be interdicted any way other than with a direct strike.”
Needless to say, South Korea is also a target for any possible attack carried by its northern communist brother. Tensions between the two countries have also spiked in recent weeks. The North just recently sentenced four South Korean writers to death for reviewing a book that discusses North Korea’s hidden capitalism.