Former CIA chief Michael Morell says U.S. faces two options on North Korea

After North Korea claimed a successful hydrogen bomb test, South Korea fired missiles Monday to simulate an attack on the country’s nuclear test site. The Trump administration issued a stern threat to Pyongyang warning of a “massive military response.” 

CBS News senior national security contributor and former acting and deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell, told “CBS This Morning” that the U.S. faces two choices on North Korea.  

“One is a military attack with devastating consequences and no guarantee of success, and the other is acceptance of where they are and where they’re going with containment and deterrence. I think the latter makes the most sense. I think that’s where we’ll end up,” Morell said.

While U.S. intelligence officials have yet to confirm whether the test was actually a hydrogen bomb, Morell said he would not be surprised if it was.

“The U.S. intelligence community has been all over this program for the last 25 years,” he said. “We’ve predicted accurately how it would evolve and why Kim Jong Un would want to do this. So there isn’t anything that we’ve seen in the last, I’d say five years, that has been a surprise. It’s all been predictable.”

Morell said the test was about “10 times stronger” than North Korea’s last and according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry, the North appears to be planning another intercontinental ballistic missile launch. The escalation of tensions in that region worries Morell.

“Most wars don’t start with intent. Most wars start because people stumble into them. Mistakes are made. It’s the way World War I started. So rising tension of the kind we’ve seen in the Korean Peninsula for the last six months is deeply concerning from that respect,” Morell said.

He cautioned that the U.S. needs to use “the right words and the right actions.”

“The right words are sober. It’s keeping all options open. It’s that we will defend our allies at all costs,” Morell said. “We should be ramping up the sanctions. We should be building our missile defense and that of South Korea and Japan. And we should make that known. We should conduct more missile defense tests.” 

On Monday, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the North’s actions show that Kim is “begging for war.” 

“Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited,” Haley said. 

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