Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump Administration Sends Mixed Messages On North Korea

Trump Administration Sends Mixed Messages On North Korea

Earlier this week, Gen. Kim Rak-Gyom, who heads North Korea's rocket command, said in a statement carried by state media that Pyongyang was "about to take" military action near the US territory of Guam.

"It is the job of Secretary Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, to talk about the military options". "And I will tell you this, North Korea better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble".

"That's my responsibility, to have those. The pressure campaign, we see that working". "And of course there's a military solution". He pivoted again in the interview and claimed that he "was admonishing journalists" for "forcing our chief diplomat into a position" to make a "statement regarding military options".

But, on a deeper and more important level, these recent commentscouldundermine high-stakes diplomatic efforts and send a confusing signal to North Korea at a time where lowering tensions, not raising them, is vital to preventing a scary situation from spiraling further out of control.

HORSLEY: Tillerson, who's just back from a series of meetings with allies in Asia, says there's no disconnect between that sentiment and the president's tough talk about possible military action.

"We want to use diplomacy". That's where we've been, that's where we are right now. and that's where we hope to remain. "But at the same time, our defenses are robust". Though he insisted there was no imminent threat, he noted that even if there were, "the North Korean missile capability can point in many directions, so Guam is not the only place that would be under threat".

But Mattis would not elaborate on any near term readiness enhancement measures the Pentagon has undertaken for America's nuclear forces and missile defenses. In fact, "If we have to, we'll go to war", Graham said.

"I was not elected, the American people elected the president", he said.

But Tillerson says North Korea's rhetoric is simply getting louder and more threatening because of new global pressure.

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Nor would Mattis comment on recent reports that North Korea has a miniaturized nuclear warhead.

But Tillerson says the current USA strategy is working. "They will be met with the fire and fury like the world has never seen".

"The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons", Mattis said.

"Put yourself in President Trump's shoes", he said.

The president's retweets about his rhetoric Tuesday come as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was urging calm.

"The President is-I was not elected".

The lawmakers warned that Congress and the American people will hold Trump responsible if a "careless or ill-advised miscalculation results in conflict that endangers our service members and our regional allies". "I think what he's pointing out is simply these provocations ..."

"The danger of the United States having mixed messages is that it allows our adversaries and our allies the opportunity to read into our statements what they fear to see, or what they like to see", said Abraham Denmark, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest.

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