Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

US Denies Plan for Strike on North Korea; by Matthew Pennington

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

US Denies Plan for Strike on North Korea; by Matthew Pennington

Article excerpt

Byline: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The United States doesn't have a "bloody nose" strategy for North Korea, senators of both parties and a Trump administration official said Thursday, rejecting claims the U.S. wants to strike the North's nuclear program in a way that avoids an all-out war.

The harmonized message could quell speculation that President Donald Trump is contemplating limited military action to demonstrate U.S. resolve toward North Korea without provoking a wider conflict. Such a strategy would be widely seen as dangerous given the North's capability to inflict a devastating retaliation on U.S. ally South Korea.

A senior White House official, at a briefing Wednesday, told lawmakers no such approach has been adopted, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and James Risch, R-Idaho, said at a Senate hearing Thursday. An administration official who was testifying confirmed their accounts.

The White House had "made it very clear there is no bloody nose strategy for a strike against North Korea," Shaheen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was considering the nomination of Susan Thornton, Trump's choice to be the top diplomat for East Asia.

"We were told clearly by administration people about as high up as it gets that there is no such thing as a 'bloody nose' strategy, that they've never talked about, they've never considered it, they've never used that term, and it's not something that that people ought to be talking about," Risch said.

Thornton confirmed the administration's policy remains one of "maximum pressure" through economic sanctions to get North Korea to negotiate on eliminating up its nuclear weapons. At the same time, the U.S. is keeping military options on the table.

"Our preference is to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through a diplomatic settlement, but we will reach this goal one way or another," she said.

Trump has pledged to prevent North Korea from perfecting a nuclear-tipped, long-range missile that could strike the U.S. mainland. The North's rapid tempo of weapons tests in the past year has led the CIA director to say the country may only be months away from the target. …

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