President Trump has determined a course of action for responding to North Korea’s continued nuclear missile development program, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday, with U.S. military preparations “underway” for potential action.
“What the president has done is he’s made a decision for us to pursue a certain course,” the official told reporters in the White House briefing room, “and that course obviously has a number of options associated with it depending on how the situation develops in the future.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Trump plans include “a broad range of options, obviously, across all elements of national power and multinational power in connection with North Korea.”
“What you’ve seen is really an integrated effort to prioritize diplomatic and informational aspects of national power, but also what you’ll see soon is using the economic dimension of national power as well as the military preparations that are underway,” the official said, barely 100 yards from where the entire U.S. Senate was receiving a briefing on the administration’s strategy for North Korea.
Earlier this month the Pentagon ordered the USS Carl Vinson and its escort ships to the waters off the Korean Peninsula, and this week the U.S. military deployed the THAAD anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea to respond to North Korea’s continued missile tests and nuclear development. But the comments from the official indicated that more dramatic action is being contemplated. Trump Administration officials have escalated their rhetoric against North Korea in recent weeks, emphatically maintaining the right to launch a unilateral strike against that country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Asked by a reporter to clarify what preparations are underway, the official declined to provide more information, saying, “I don’t think we’re going to describe those in any detail.”
Among the options, the official said, the administration is considering placing North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The official said the economic component of the strategy involves further working to deprive North Korea of access goods needed to develop the programs in violation of UN sanctions.