Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
President Trump on Thursday did not back away from threatening military action against North Korea, just one day after a top Navy admiral said Hawaii was within reach of the rogue nation’s missiles.
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters. “… We’d love to solve things diplomatically, but it’s very difficult.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mirrored those comments Friday , saying that “failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences.”
“The threat of a nuclear attack on Seoul, or Tokyo, is real, and it’s only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the U.S. mainland,” Tillerson said.
He added: “All options for responding to future provocations must remain on the table. Diplomatic and financial leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary.”
On Wednesday, Navy Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. told a Congressional committee that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “is clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today, in my opinion.”
Harris is the head of the U.S. Pacific Command or PACOM, the military organization responsible for defending Hawaii.
Harris acknowledged that antimissile defenses may not be able to stop an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from North Korea, Hawaii News Now reported.
“We have ‘x’ number of interceptors that can shoot down ‘y’ number of targets,” Harris testified. “If the opposition fired ‘y plus one,’ then that’s at least one that would get through.”
He added, “I believe that our ballistic missile architecture is sufficient to protect Hawaii today.”
Crisis ‘Is Real – The Worst I’ve Seen’
Still, the crisis on the Korean peninsula “is real—the worst I’ve seen,” Harris said.
“There is some doubt within the intelligence community whether Kim Jong-un has that capability today or whether he will soon, but I have to assume he has it, the capability is real, and that he’s moving towards it.”
“Kim Jong-un is making progress and all nations need to take this seriously because their missiles point in all directions. If left unchecked, they will match the capability of his hostile rhetoric.”
Hawaii state legislators are taking Harris’ statements seriously. The Public Safety Committee of the Hawaii State House passed a resolution ordering officials to update plans for coping with a nuclear attack.
The committee wants Cold War-era fallout shelters reopened and stocked with new supplies, Hawaii News Now reported. Legislators also want a nuclear attack response plan that was written in 1985 updated.
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