At a forum in Washington, which also has National Security Adviser HR McMaster in attendance, CIA Director Mike Pompeo expressed the need for the United States to act as if North Korea is on the verge of being able to strike it with a missile and act accordingly, but also revealed President Trump was not ready to do so, confirmed also by McMaster.
Pompeo, who is among a number of former officials signaling the option of a military option to diffuse the North Korea threat, said: “From a US policy perspective, we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective,” Pompeo said Thursday at a security forum held by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “They are so far along in that, it’s now a matter of thinking about how do you stop the final step.”
“Whether it happens on Tuesday or a month from Tuesday, we’re in a time where the President has concluded that we have a global effort to ensure that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un does not obtain that capacity,” Pompeo continued.
Pompeo’s comments come after former CIA Director John Brennan put the chances of military conflict with North Korea as high as 20% to 25%.
Speaking on Wednesday night at Fordham University School of Law, Brennan stressed that, “there really is no good military solution to this issue.”
“The prospects for military conflict on the Korean Peninsula are greater than they have been in several decades. I don’t think it’s likely or probable, but if it’s a one in four, one in five chance, that’s too high.” Asked if that’s the rating he’d give for the chances of conflict. Yeah, I guess I would”, he said.
Highlighting the possible scenario as a result of any military engagement, Brennan said: “So I think we have to be mindful here that there are a number of scenarios here that could lead to an escalation that we really need to be trying to avoid”. Trump isn’t helping on that score, he said.
“You have two leaders of the two major protagonist countries that are hurling these broadsides back and forth, and they have a lot of personal political face involved in it,” he said.
“I don’t agree that the tack that Mr Trump has taken is a constructive and productive one,” Brennan said, referring to Trump’s use of belittling words like “Rocket Man” and other insults “irresponsible.”
However, Asked at the Thursday’s event about the threat posed by North Korea, McMaster said that Trump will not accept a nuclear North Korea that threatens the US, putting the administration in a “race” to resolve the increasingly tense standoff before it devolves into a military confrontation.
“He’s not going to accept this regime threatening the United States with nuclear weapons. There are those who would say, well, why not accept and deter. Well, accept and deter is unacceptable”, the former military general said.
“So this puts us in a situation where we are in a race to resolve this short of military action. Everybody knows it. We all know it. … Our allies and partners know it. China knows it. Russia knows it”, he continued.
McMaster equally praised Trump’s handling of the crisis, saying that the President’s leadership had created the possibility of an “unprecedented level of international cooperation on the issue.”
Similarly, he also praised Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to increase international pressure on North Korea, which has moved some countries including the North’s closest ally” China” to cut diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, expel its ambassadors and in some cases, ban North Korean guest workers.