In the last two months, it seemed that tensions with North Korea were easing up. But last week, Kim Jong-Un ended his hiatus, conducting his most successful intercontinental ballistic missile test to date. Now, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is talking war.
In the early morning hours last Wednesday, Kim launched an ICBM that traveled higher and farther than ever before. Pentagon officials confirmed the launch, as did the office of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
After the test, Secretary of Defense James Mattis expressed concern that North Korea was capable of striking anywhere. On Sunday, McMaster echoed those sentiments in an interview with Fox News host, Brett Bair.
“Every time he conducts a missile launch and nuclear test, he gets better,” McMaster told Bair. “And whether it’s a success or failure isn’t as important as understanding that over the years, he’s been learning from failures, improving, and thereby increasing his threat to all of us.”
When asked specifically about the chances of a U.S. war with the rogue regime, McMaster’s response was alarming. “I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” he cautioned.
The Trump administration has been pursuing diplomatic solutions to deal with Pyongyang’s increasing aggression. However, the president recently noted that “talking with North Korea isn’t working.” Responding to the latest test, Trump said “we’ll handle it.”
In what could be considered a dress rehearsal, the U.S military kicked off the joint Vigilant Ace war games in Seoul on Monday. The military dispatched more than 16,000 American troops and 230 fighter jets to the region for the five-day exercise.
According to reports, the F-22 Raptors and F-35 Lightnings are the largest concentration of fighter jets ever in South Korea. F-35s can fly at speeds greater than 1000-mph and are nuke capable. The F-22 flies at a speed of 1500-mph and carries sidewinder missiles.
The drills drew an angry response from North Korea. “’The US and South Korean puppet warmongers would be well advised to bear in mind that their DPRK-targeted military drill will be as foolish as an act precipitating their self-destruction,” said state-run Rodong newspaper.