The United States and North Korea have reached an improbable and unfortunate agreement.
Representatives of both nations have pointed toward increased military activity across the Korean Peninsula. War, they say, is no longer just a distant consideration – it’s a possibility that’s quickly becoming real.
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster told a conference the same.
“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” he said, addressing an audience at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California.
McMaster was asked a question about the likelihood of the United States and North Korea going to war.
Midway through the past week, North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The device – which experts speculated may have torn apart at high altitudes – was one among a budding arsenal dictator Kim Jong-Un hopes will eventually be able to threaten the U.S. mainland.
“There are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict, but it is a race because he’s getting closer and closer, and there’s not much time left,” said McMaster of North Korea’s reclusive leader.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Kim Jong-Un’s increasingly capable nuclear arsenal makes pre-emptive more likely.
“I think we’re really running out of time,” he said, before recommending that military dependents be kept away from Pyongyang and the peninsula.
“It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea,” he said. “So I want them to stop sending dependents. And I think now it’s time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea.”
On Monday, North Korea warned that nuclear war could break out “at any moment.”
The ominous – if not unsurprising – prediction comes as the United States and South Korea collaborate in massive, joint-national aerial exercises. More than two dozen American stealth jets and bombers are participating in the maneuvers.
The Rodong Sinmun – North Korea’s leading propaganda newspaper – warned the exercises “were an open, all-out provocation against the DPRK, which may lead to nuclear war at any moment.
“The US and South Korean puppet warmongers would be well advised to bear in mind that their DPRK-targeted military drill will be as foolish an act precipitating their self-destruction,” it said.
Attempts by China to pressure North Korea into abandoning its nuclear program have been largely ineffective.
In November, President Donald Trump traded punches with North Korean state media after hearing reports that Kimg Jong-Un had called him “old.” Trying to retaliate, the commander-in-chief said he’d “never” call the dictator “short and fat.”