North Korea’s ICBM launch last week has sent tensions soaring once again.
“If there’s an underground nuclear test, then you need to get ready for a very serious response by the United States,” Senator Lindsey Graham said on the CBS show “Face the Nation” yesterday (Sunday, December 3).
His comments echoed those of National Security Advisor H R McMaster, who said on Saturday that the potential for war with North Korea was “increasing every day”.
The US has demanded tougher international sanctions, including cuts in oil shipments, but both McMaster and Graham suggested that the risk of war was growing despite these diplomatic moves.
“We are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” said McMaster. “This would be the most destabilising development I think in the post-World War II period. It’s something that places us at direct risk — but also places the world at risk.”
Graham said the administration’s policy was “to deny North Korea the capability to hit America with a nuclear-tipped ICBM. Not to contain it”.
“Denial means preemptive war as a last resort. That preemption is becoming more likely as their technology matures. Every missile test, every underground test of a nuclear weapon, means the marriage is more likely.
“I think we’re really running out of time. The Chinese are trying, but ineffectively,” he said.
Beijing has backed a slew of sanctions that include bans on imports of North Korean coal, iron ore and seafood.
The UN also barred the hiring of North Korean guest workers and capped exports of refined petroleum products.
But China has refused to turn off its pipeline shipping crude to North Korea.
North Korea has boasted that the missile tested on Wednesday is capable of reaching the United States.