National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday the threat of North Korea launching a nuclear weapon at the U.S. or another rival nation is “impossible to overstate” and repeated that a preemptive military strike remains an option.
“It’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime,” McMaster told Hugh Hewitt on the conservative commentator’s MSNBC TV show.
“Are we preparing a plan for a preventive war? … The president has been very clear that he’s not going to tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the U.S. … So of course we have to provide all options to do that, and that includes a military option.”
Still, he said the United States would like to resolve the situation “short of what would be a very costly war."
The retired Army general said President Trump has been "deeply briefed" on the strategy on North Korea.
Tensions have mounted with Pyongyang's two recent successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles. And Trump has sought help from China and South Korea toward de-escalating the situation.
In the interview, McMaster spoke about several problem spots around the world, including Iran and Venezuela, where residents fighting against an oppressive regime have also raised concerns about U.S. military intervention.
The U.N. Security Council was expected to vote on a new sanctions resolution that would increase economic pressure on North Korea to return to negotiations on its missile program.
McMaster said “democracy is now over in Venezuela” but significantly downplayed the potential of a military operation from neighboring countries or the United States.
“I don’t see an outside military intervention,” he said
McMaster also reiterated that Trump doesn’t like the so-called Iran nuclear deal, brokered by the former Obama administration and that eases billions in economic sanctions on the rogue nation.
The deal eases the sanctions in exchange for Iran scaling back its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
McMaster said Trump thinks Iran has already violated the spirit of the agreement, pointing to the country’s support of the Assad regime in Syria. However, he declined to say whether the U.S. will exit the agreement after an upcoming 90-day review.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.