Saturday, 16 December, 2017

USA officials claim confrontation with North Korea not imminent

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford right and United States Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks second from right greets a helicopter flight crew as he arrives at Osan Air Base Sunday Aug. 13 2017 in Pyeongtaek South Korea USA officials claim confrontation with North Korea not imminent
Melinda Barton | 13 August, 2017, 23:19

When host Chris Wallace pressed him about how close North Korea is to being able to hit the US mainland, Pompeo said that it was alarming but hard to define.

Pompeo said "there's nothing imminent today", in response to a question about how anxious should people be over the escalating tensions.

US President Donald Trump has warned of "fire and fury" and that the US military is "locked and loaded", while North Korea has responsed with threats to target Guam.

Pompeo said he could not get into specifics but said that North Korea's progress has gone on for decades.

But Trump on Friday appeared to set another red line - the mere utterance of threats - that would trigger a USA attack against North Korea and "big, big trouble" for Kim.

"When I served in Korea many years ago as the director of intelligence USA forces in Korea, what I was anxious about was an incendiary event getting out of hand", Clapper added.

Moving forward, he said President Trump's tough talk and global unity against North Korean leader Kim Jung-un is working.

"Our response is we are prepared militarily to deal with this if necessary".

US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster echoed the tenor of Pompeo's remarks, saying the threat posed by North Korea is "coming to a head", but adding in an interview on ABC, "we're not closer to war than a week ago". "But make no mistake about it, the continuation - the increased chance that there will be a nuclear missile in Denver - is a very serious threat".

"The United States military is locked and loaded every day, and especially those who are on the front lines of freedom", said McMaster, who's also an Army lieutenant general.

US financial markets took the rhetorical escalation in stride on Friday even as European and Asian markets weakened in a catch-up reaction to Thursday's drop.

Gen Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters travelling with him that he aims to "sense what the temperature is in the region".

"President Trump inherited a mess", Graham said.

These comments come following a week of verbal escalation between the United States and North Korea.

In a separate interview on "Fox News Sunday", Pompeo was asked about the nature and degree of threat to the US mainland in light of Kim's continuing drive to develop North Korea's missile and nuclear capacities. China, North Korea's only major ally, has urged restraint.

A Chinese state-run newspaper said on Friday that China should remain neutral if North Korea launches an attack that threatens the United States, sounding a warning for Pyongyang over its plans to fire missiles near Guam.