Rare White House session hears from Mattis, Tillerson, Coats, Dunford
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.
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.
New steps by the administration will include the imposition of additional economic sanctions.
“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.
Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) told MSNBC the meeting was “very consequential” and included discussion of North Korea’s shift from liquid to solid fuel missiles, and improving nuclear weapons and missile capabilities.
Barrasso said he favors increasing sanctions, including sanctions on China.
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.”
Full article: Senators Told North Korea Nuclear Threat Is Urgent (Washington Free Beacon)