Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's harsh rhetoric might be "stirring the pot a little too vigorously" with North Korea, especially after Pyongyang's failed missile launch over the weekend.
"We're trying to make people there uncomfortable," Hayden, a four-star general who also directed the CIA and the NSA, told Erin Burnett on CNN. "Frankly, our demand to keep people there comfortable has put us on a path where the North Koreans are going to be able to strike Seattle in four or five years with a nuclear weapon if things don't change.
"I understand why you don't want to make some people uncomfortable."
In Wisconsin on Tuesday, Trump said that "you always have to be concerned" about the possibility of nuclear war with North Korea.
"Look, you always have to be concerned, when you don't know exactly who you are dealing with," he told WTMJ-TV.
The president's comments came two days after Pyongyang fired a missile to mark the 105th anniversary of North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung.
The weapon exploded within seconds — and Vice President Mike Pence told CNN in Tokyo that the U.S. was working to diplomatically "isolate" North Korea as a result of the test.
Hayden said that Trump's harsh language toward Pyongyang, as well as Pence's 10-day visit to Asia, are sending a signal to China — not North Korea.
"It's intended for China," he told Burnett. "We want them to up the pressure on the north."
Trump’s rhetoric "may not be unwise," Hayden added. "Otherwise, we're stuck with where we've been — and we know where we're going if we don't change."
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