Politics ESSENTIAL WASHINGTON

Here's our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington:

CIA chief says it would be 'unacceptable' for North Korea to have a nuclear missile capable of striking U.S.

 (AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP/Getty Images)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that President Trump would consider it “unacceptable” for North Korea to possess a nuclear-armed ballistic missile capable of striking the United States — a development believed to be soon within Pyongyang's reach.

But the intelligence chief also said he saw no imminent threat of North Korea attacking the U.S. with such a nuclear weapon, although he expected the rogue nation's missile program would continue despite international sanctions.  

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pompeo said Trump had “made very clear that the United States finds it unacceptable for a rogue leader like Kim Jong Un to have the capacity of a ballistic missile with a warhead that is integrated and fully deliverable to the United States and hold America and the world at risk.”

“He’s simply not going to permit it to happen,” he said.

In a separate interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Pompeo was asked about the nature and degree of threat to the U.S. mainland in light of Kim’s continuing drive to develop North Korea’s missile and nuclear capacities.

“There’s nothing imminent today,” he replied. “But make no mistake about it, the continuation — the increased chance that there will be a nuclear missile in Denver — is a very serious threat.”

North Korea is thought to have developed a miniaturized warhead, and a more advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, that would enhance its ability to deliver a nuclear payload against the U.S.

H.R. McMaster, the White House national security advisor, said Trump, who alarmed many with his incendiary remarks about North Korea over the last week, had not drawn any “red line” regarding Kim's nuclear program.

“The president doesn't draw red lines,” McMaster said on NBC’s “Meet the Press. “What he does is he asks us to make sure that we have viable options for him — options that combine diplomatic, economic and military capabilities. And so that's what we've done.”  

Some former security and defense officials have said that Trump’s rhetoric — including a threat of “fire and fury” and an assertion days later that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” in the face of North Korea's provocations — have made a volatile situation worse.

Following Trump’s initial threat, North Korea threatened to target the tiny Pacific island of Guam, a U.S. territory that is home to large U.S. air and naval bases.  

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta, also appearing on “Face the Nation,” said Trump’s language had “frankly created even greater tensions in that part of the world.”

An ex-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred. Retired Adm. Michael Mullen, who served under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, said he was concerned by heated language from both Trump and the North Korean government. Kim himself lately has been largely silent.

Trump’s rhetoric “eliminates maneuver space for him,” Mullen said on NBC's “Meet the Press,” adding, “It looks like brinksmanship to me.”

Latest updates

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
60°