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McMaster: Potential for War with NKorea 'Increasing Every Day'

Image: McMaster: Potential for War with NKorea 'Increasing Every Day'
(AP)

By    |   Saturday, 02 December 2017 06:29 PM

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday that the threat of war with North Korea was "increasing every day" — and he doubted whether dictator Kim Jong Un would have a "Grinch moment" to end his nuclear ambitions without stronger U.S. sanctions or other actions.

"The prospects now for any dramatic change in his behavior, without some significant new actions,"

"He's not going to have a Grinch moment, I don't think, with his heart growing two sizes larger — and we see him change his behavior," McMaster told Fox News host Bret Baier at the Reagan National Defense Forum.

Baier interviewed McMaster after he spoke at the forum, in its fifth year, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

On the prospects of a military showdown with Pyongyang, "it's increasing every day, which means that we are in a race," McMaster said.

"Really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem — not just us, but the United States, our allies and partners.

"We know China has tremendous coercive economic power over North Korea," he added. "You can't shoot a missile without fuel, right?

"There are ways to address this problem, short of conflict, but it is a race because he's getting closer and closer — and there's not much time left."

North Korea successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday — and Kim declared that his country had achieved full nuclear statehood.

The White House immediately responded that the regime would be "utterly destroyed" if its long-range nuclear missile arsenal efforts provoked a military clash.

McMaster told Baier that the Trump administration was assessing North Korea's latest launch, "but what is clear is that every time he conducts a missile launch and nuclear test, he gets better.

"Whether it's a success or failure isn't as important as understanding that over the years, he's been learning from failures — improving and, thereby, increasing his threat to all of us."

Pyongyang's efforts are further uniting the U.S. and its allies, including China, McMaster said.

"China agreed that this is a threat to everyone," he said. "This is a global threat.

"China is committed to the complete denuclearization of North Korea," McMaster said, referring to President Donald Trump's talks with President Xi Jinping during his Asia trip last month.

"China is wholly committed."

He added that perhaps the greatest change with Beijing is that it "recognizes that it does have tremendous economic power over North Korea.

"We are asking China to act — in China's interest, as they should — and we believe increasingly that it's in China's urgent interest to do more, to do more beyond U.N. Security Council resolutions."

However, despite the unease on the Korean Peninsula, McMaster said that Americans can feel safe attending the Winter Olympics in South Korea, in February.

"We have an extraordinarily ready and capable military," he told Baier.

"That military is getting stronger every day, based on the president's priority to address what had been deferred military modernization, strengthening all of our services and their capabilities.

"I think that's pretty apparent."

Turning to Syria, McMaster said that he did not believe that Russia has cemented President Bashar Assad's power by helping his government chase Islamic State terrorists from their remaining strongholds on the border with Iraq.

"What's needed is a political transition that allows all Syrians to have a say in the future of that government so they can get out of this horible humanitarian crisis," he told Baier.

Assad has no place in that government, however.

"Somebody who has committed mass murder of his own people?" McMaster posed. "How does that work?

"What's needed in Syria is a consolidation of gains over ISIS and consolidation in such a way that it can bridge into a political process and deliver enduring security."

Damascus has become, he said, "a destructive cycle of violence" that has also made them vulnerable to al-Qaida, Iran and other rogue entities.

"They take advantage of weak states to make them dependent on them for support," McMaster said.

He also slammed previous U.S. policies toward Tehran, saying that "the focus on trying to accommodate Iran has empowered Iran across the whole region.

"What we have in place now is a comprehensive strategy for Iran — and denying Iran all access to a nuclear weapon is one part of that strategy," McMaster added. "Countering behavior is another critical part of the strategy."

On Russian sanctions, the national security adviser said that "it takes time" to implement those Congress approved in July, because the administration wanted "to make sure we are doing it right.

"To make sure we sanction the right entities.

"Sanctions are relevant to countering Russia's destabilizing behavior — and we are moving on that as fast as we can."

He noted that the Treasury Department is also acting to "increase the economic isolation and pressure on the North Korean regime.

"It's also going to sanction Iran's behavior associated with their missile development in violation of U.N. Council resolutions and to sanction behavior based on support for terrorist organizations and their proxies.

"If you look at Venezuela and the victimization of the Venezuelan people, we are doing everything we can in support with our allies and partners to communicate to [President Nicolás Maduro] that he has to restore his citizens' constitutional rights — and that has to do with sanctions.

"Nobody's taking any days off these days in the Treasury Department."

In his speech, McMaster told the gathering that the Trump administration's national security strategy was based on "principled realism" that "adapts a realistic view of security environments" around the world.

"For this reason, we do not base national security decisions on rigid ideology but instead out of core national interests and clearly defined objectives derived from those interests.

"We have been clear eyed about the more obvious threat from North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile developments.

"The president is committed to the total denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," McMaster said.

"He has no allusions about the North Korean dictator's intentions — and we will not repeat the failed efforts of the past."

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"He's not going to have a Grinch moment, I don't think, with his heart growing two sizes larger — and we see him change his behavior," McMaster told Fox News host Bret Baier at the Reagan National Defense Forum.
mcmaster, north korea, war
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2017-29-02
Saturday, 02 December 2017 06:29 PM
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