President Donald Trump on Thursday said military action against North Korea remains an option to counter its nuclear missile program, speaking ahead of a weekend when Pyongyang is expected to make another provocative move advancing its effort.
“Military action would certainly be an option,” Trump said at a White House news conference alongside the leader of Kuwait. “Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable. It would be great if something else could be worked out.”
Boasting that the U.S. military is stronger than ever with the addition of “new and beautiful equipment,” Trump added, “Hopefully we’re not going to have to use it on North Korea. If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”
He concluded, “North Korea is behaving badly, and it’s got to stop.”
Pressure has mounted on Trump to respond as North Korea appears to be getting closer to building a nuclear weapon small enough to be compatible with a missile that can reach the United States.
North Korea appeared to carry out its sixth and most powerful test explosion of a nuclear bomb on Sunday.
Last month, the North Korean military fired a missile into the upper atmosphere in its latest missile test. A threatened South Korea believes the North Korean military is preparing for another test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Thursday.
Saturday is the anniversary of North Korea’s founding, and its leaders typically celebrate with a show of force.
Trump didn’t answer a question about whether he would accept North Korea as a nuclear power and switch the U.S. strategy to one of containment and deterrence.
Decades of attempts by previous presidents to use sanctions and diplomacy to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions haven’t worked, Trump said.
“We’ve had presidents for 25 years now, they’ve been talking, talking, talking, and the day after an agreement is reached, new work begins in North Korea, continuation on nuclear,” he said. “So I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it’s something certainly that could happen.”
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