Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Economic & Military Action Steps Up Against N. Korea

Top Trump aide: Military preparations ‘underway’ on North Korea

 President Trump and North Korean Kim Jong Un 

WASHINGTON — President Trump is stepping up diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea, and military preparations are “underway” in the event such action becomes necessary, a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday. But Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told the media after a closed-door White House briefing on North Korea that “preemptive strike options were not presented” to the senators there.
“The briefing showed the thoroughness and the detail and the preparation and the work that’s going into making our military appropriately postured in the event that there is some unexpected development by North Korea, and our diplomatic effort,” Coons said.
But, he said, “there was not specific conversation” about seeking congressional authorization for new sanctions or the use of force “or imminently needing any such authorization.”
His comments came as he emerged from a briefing from top Trump national security aides in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building that is part of the White House complex, and after a senior administration official referred to military preparations during a briefing held on condition the official not be named.
“What you’ve seen is a really integrated effort to prioritize diplomatic and informational aspects of national power, but also what you will see soon is using the economic dimension of national power, as well as the military preparations that are underway,” the official said.
“Depending on how the situation develops in the future,” Trump will pick from a “broad range of options,” the official added.
It was unclear whether the official was referring to deploying missile defenses to South Korea and naval military assets to the Sea of Japan. Asked to flesh out what the military preparations were, and whether they would include a visible show of force to North Korea, the official declined to answer. “I don’t think we’re going to describe those in any detail,” he said.
The United States is “vigilant” about the possibility of another North Korean nuclear test, or a ballistic missile test, or an intercontinental ballistic missile test, and is “prepared to respond to any of those provocations,” the official said.
Coons told reporters in the White House driveway: “I do think there was an appropriate and thoughtful focus on how we would react if North Korea took a more aggressive posture.” He noted the deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group to the region and the presence in the region of a ship “outfitted for the possibility of a Tomahawk [missile] strike if that were to happen.” Trump has worked to “put us in a posture where we would be able to respond if there were an unexpected abrupt change in North Korea’s posture.”
On the economic front, the anonymous official pointed to a recent military parade in North Korea to highlight the need to tighten the economic vise on the secretive Stalinist regime in Pyongyang.
“If you just look at the images — right? — of the big parade there recently and look at the complexity of that equipment, those components, even the tires — right? — are not made in North Korea. So it’s clear that all of us have a lot more to do to isolate the regime from its access to the kind of materials and technologies and components it needs to advance” its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, the official said.
The official spoke to reporters in the White House briefing room as top national security aides to Trump held a highly unusual closed-door briefing next door to the presidential mansion, inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, to which all 100 senators were invited. The president himself walked from the West Wing to the gray edifice to drop in on the briefing.

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