US officials say war with North Korea not imminent


August 14, 2017
A helicopter carrying Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford and United States Forces Korea Commander General Vincent Brooks (left) takes a familiarisation flight yesterday, near Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


Senior US national security officials said Sunday that a military confrontation with North Korea's is not imminent, but they cautioned that the possibility of war is greater than it was a decade ago.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Army Lt Gen HR McMaster, President Trump's national security adviser, tried to provide assurances that a conflict is avoidable, while also supporting Trump's tough talk.

They said the United States and its allies no longer can afford to stand by as North Korea pushes ahead with the development of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.

McMaster stressed that the US is pursuing "a very determined diplomatic effort", led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, that's coupled with new financial sanctions to dissuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from further provocations.

escalating tensions

"The US military is locked and loaded every day," McMaster said, repeating Trump's threat.

Pompeo said "there's nothing imminent today," in response to a question about how worried should people be over the escalating tensions.

He said the US has a "pretty good idea" of North Korea's intentions, but Pompeo declined to provide specifics. The CIA chief described Kim as "rational" and responsive to "adverse circumstances."

The top US military officer, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, is travelling in Asia and expected to meet with leaders in South Korea, Japan and China.

Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters travelling with him that he aims to "sense what the temperature is in the region." He also will discuss military options in the event the "diplomatic and economic pressurisation campaign" fails.

"We're all looking to get out of this situation without a war," Dunford said.