As tensions continue to escalate on the Korean peninsula following Pyongyang’s most recent nuclear test, a senior Trump administration official has spoken out.
The US is very concerned that North Korea might not be able to be deterred, a senior Trump administration official said on Thursday, drawing a distinction between Washington’s view of Pyongyang and its model for dealing with former Cold War foes.
The official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, also said there was a grave risk that North Korea might “miscalculate” the US response to its behaviour and warned Pyongyang not to “under-estimate American will to protect ourselves and our allies.”
While US experts are continuing to assess the North Korean nuclear test – its sixth and most powerful – the official that there was no information to contradict Pyongyang’s assertion that it detonated a hydrogen bomb.
It comes as Donald Trump warned Kim Jong-un he will regret forcing the US to take military action against North Korea.
The US President refused to rule out a strike against the reclusive state as tensions between Pyongyang and Washington reach boiling point.
During a news conference Mr Trump said military action is “an option” against Kim’s hermit nation.
Although the US President admitted he would “prefer” not to use force against North Korea, he fired an ominous warning to the country’s dictator.
He said: “Military action would certainly be an option. Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable.
“I would prefer not going the route of the military.
“If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”
Mr Trump continued his war of words with Pyongyang and slapped Kim Jong-un on the wrists saying North Korea is behaving very badly and must stop.
North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 2, describing it as an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, a dramatic escalation of its stand-off with the United States and its allies.
US officials declined to discuss operational planning, but acknowledge that no existing plan for a preemptive strike could promise to prevent a brutal counterattack by North Korea, which has thousands of artillery pieces and rockets trained on Seoul.
In an implicit recognition that the military options against the North are unpalatable at best, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last week told reporters: “We are never out of diplomatic solutions.”