TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Asked by MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt in an interview on Saturday whether the US was planning to take military action against Pyongyang, McMaster said all options were under discussion.
“What you’re asking is, are we preparing plans for a preventive war, right?” he said in response. “A war that would prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon?”
McMaster said President Donald Trump has been very clear that the US will not tolerate “North Korea being able to threaten the United States.”
“If they have nuclear weapons that can threaten the United States, it’s intolerable from the president’s perspective. So of course, we have to provide all options to do that. And that includes a military option.”
The comments came following two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by Pyongyang last month. North Korea claimed that its latest missile, test-fired on July 4, can deliver a "large, heavy nuclear warhead" to the US continent.
“I’m not going to confirm [whether the latest ICBM could reach anywhere in the US] but whether it could reach San Francisco or Pittsburgh or Washington, I mean how much does that matter? It’s a grave threat,” McMaster said.
“It’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime," Trump’s adviser added.
McMaster, however, acknowledged that any military strike against Pyongyang could result in a “very costly war” that would cause immense “suffering of mainly the South Korean people.”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday that Trump had told him he was prepared to launch a devastating war to destroy North Korea rather than allow it to develop a long-range nuclear-armed missile.
"There is a military option: To destroy North Korea's program and North Korea itself,” Graham told NBC's Today Show, describing his discussions with Trump.
North Korea is under mounting international pressure over its missile and nuclear development programs, but it says it needs to continue and develop its missile force as a deterrent to defend the nation in the face of a possible military invasion by the US and its regional allies.
In recent weeks, the US has ratcheted up the rhetoric against the North and drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution that seeks to cut the country’s $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. The council unanimously adopted the sanctions resolution on Saturday.
“We should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem. Not even close. The North Korean threat has not left us, it is rapidly growing more dangerous," Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said after the vote.
The new sanctions blocks all exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, as well as fish and seafood from the country over its recent missile tests.