Tags: North Korea | leon panetta | false missile alarms | misunderstandings | war

Leon Panetta: False Missile Alarms Create 'Misunderstandings'

Leon Panetta: False Missile Alarms Create 'Misunderstandings'
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 January 2018 02:30 PM

Saturday's false alarm about a ballistic missile strike hitting in Hawaii was a wakeup call that shows the United States is not fully prepared for every contingency when it comes to dealing with North Korea, former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta said Tuesday, and he is concerned that such events could create a misunderstanding that could lead to war.

"[It] stressed the point that the biggest danger in dealing with North Korea is the danger of miscalculation and misjudgment," Panetta told MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." "The tensions are so high that people may do things that will create some kind of backlash that could ultimately lead to war."

In addition to the false alarm that terrified people in Hawaii on Saturday, a false alarm also went out in Japan early Tuesday.

"If a false alarm goes out and the North Koreans are not sure what's happening and may react to it, our military does not know what's happening," Panetta, also a former secretary of Defense, told Mitchell. "Our military may react [and] we could find ourselves in the middle of a nuclear war as the result of somebody pushing the wrong button. That's a reality. That's what we have to pay attention to and prepare ourselves with better procedures, better process and much better ability to be able to react should we face that kind of danger."

Panetta also said concerns that the United States is close to war "are real," but the United States is in a time when many people do not trust a lot of what they hear, including from President Donald Trump.

"We kind of casually live from day to day with this kind of threat, when in fact, we ought to be fully preparing ourselves in order to defend and protect this country," said Panetta. "That's the first order of business. Yes, we need to negotiate with the North Koreans. Yes, we need to build alliances. But in order to be strong at the table, whatever table we're at, we have to make very sure to the North Koreans that the United States, South Korea, Japan and our allies, are fully prepared to deal with any contingency from North Korea, and right now, we can't say that."

Panetta said he's also concerned about the rhetoric from both North Korea and the United States, including Trump's Twitter taunt about the size of his nuclear "button," and the response of the North Korea state media that his words were the "spasm of a lunatic."

Such language, said Panetta, has "no place in what is a very dangerous situation."

"This ought to be a moment of seriousness," said Panetta. "It ought to be a moment where the United States and the rest of the world seriously tries to deal with this threat from North Korea. When the president uses that kind of language and when the North Korean leader responds to that kind of language, all that does, very frankly, is increase the tensions between both countries."

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Saturday's false alarm about a ballistic missile strike hitting in Hawaii was a wakeup call that shows the United States is not fully prepared for every contingency when it comes to dealing with North Korea, former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta said Tuesday, and...
leon panetta, false missile alarms, misunderstandings, war
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2018-30-16
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 02:30 PM
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