Deception is a tool that is made frequent use of in international maneuvering, and is especially useful in war. Hence, the classified briefing for the entire U.S. Senate by top cabinet officials on the North Korean problem could have several implications. Taken at face value, this seems a reasonable move if hostilities are expected. But it also might be intended to send yet another message to Kim Jong-un.
Whatever the true purposes of the briefing were, we have gained some information about what was covered.
The Senate took part in a rare White House briefing on Wednesday to hear what senior leaders described as “an urgent national security threat” posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
Nothing really surprising there other than the rarity of such a meeting. We've been hearing about threats from North Korea for some years.
The hour-long secret session for all senators was held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, and included a brief appearance from President Trump who made short, introductory remarks.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also took part in the session. His presence is an indication that military options for dealing with North Korea likely were discussed.
The military option is one that is always on the table.
New steps by the administration will include the imposition of additional economic sanctions.
It's unlikely that the president would have called such an extraordinary meeting just to announce economic sanctions. Something far more serious is being considered.
The statement released after the session really doesn't tell us much new. Understandably, all cards are being played very close to the vests.
“The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Director of Intelligence Dan Coats said in a joint statement after the briefing.
Trump's approach seeks to pressure North Korea into dismantling nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs through imposing tighter economic sanctions and diplomatic measures, the three leaders said.
The senior officials noted that past efforts to halt the North Korean illicit arms programs had failed.
“With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland,” they stated.
Clearly, the rhetoric is being ratcheted up. It is unlikely that it is backed by empty threats.
Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) called the session “very clear-eyed, sober and serious.”
Coons told MSNBC the administration is working to avoid a conflict and “making it clear to China how serious we are about preventing North Korea from developing the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead by ICBM against the United States or one of our key allies, and that there are real efforts being made to avoid a misunderstanding or miscalculation because I do think this is a very dangerous circumstance and situation.”
It is perhaps telling that in Coons we have a Democrat who for once is speaking about actions the Trump administration is taking in a positive light — or at least is not condemning it. In fact, that might be one of the more revealing elements to this story.
It would seem that China and Russia have been supplying components to North Korea for its missiles — that is if you can believe the U.N. Perhaps Mr. Trump could persuade them to supply defective parts?
A U.N. panel of experts revealed in a report in February that debris obtained from a North Korean missile flight test last year included Chinese and Russian components.
President Trump pressed Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the recent summit meeting in Florida to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear arms and long-range missiles.
During the meeting, Xi told the president that China does not have the leverage over the Kim Jong Un regime in Pyongyang that the U.S. government believes it has, according to a White House official.
There are an awful lot of military assets being moved and tests being conducted if we are not building up to something.
The aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson is expected to arrive near the Korean peninsula in the next day, and a U.S. missile submarine also has been deployed.
The Air Force Strike Command also announced that a U.S. long-range nuclear missile was test fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on Wednesday. The command called the test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile “an important demonstration of our nation's nuclear deterrent capability.”
The deployment comes as U.S. intelligence agencies are closely watching North Korea for signs of another underground nuclear test, or a long-range missile test.
North Korea earlier this week carried out a large-scale live-fire artillery drill with some 300 to 400 artillery pieces firing into the sea.
North Korea fires missiles and artillery and who knows what else into the sea all the time. This happens so often that it's considered routine, or even ridiculed as a childish Kim Jong-un just stamping his feet.
However, when seen in the light of all the other apparent preparations for hostilities, perhaps this time takes on more significance.
Plus, we now have President Trump in the White House who is unlikely to cave at any show of hostility as was the case with his predecessor.
Source: Washington Free Beacon