The US is preparing plans to deliver a “bloody nose” attack against North Korea to knock out its nuclear weapons program.
The White House has “dramatically” ramped up its military plans amid fears that diplomacy won’t thwart North Korean despot Kim Jong Un from making good on his threats, sources told the UK’s Telegraph.
One option is destroying a launch site before the rogue regime uses it for a new missile test, while another is targeting weapons stockpiles, according to the news outlet.
The Trump administration hopes that pre-emptive action would show the trigger-happy dictator that the United States is serious about stopping his bellicose pursuits and persuading him to negotiate.
The Telegraph cited three anonymous sources, one inside the administration and two former officials familiar with the White House thinking.
“The Pentagon is trying to find options that would allow them to punch the North Koreans in the nose, get their attention and show that we’re serious,” a former US security official briefed on policy told the Telegraph.
President Trump’s decision to launch 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield in response to the country’s chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 civilians is considered an indication of his resolve, the paper reported.
The current plans indicate that Trump is more willing to use a military option than previously thought.
Last week, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told the Atlantic he believed there was a 30 percent chance of Trump using a military option, but that if the hermit kingdom tested another nuclear weapon, that percentage would skyrocket to 70.
One British source who recently attended a briefing with US national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other officials left feeling alarmed by Trump’s mindset, according to the outlet.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has pushed for negotiations with North Korea — but has been undercut by Trump, who insulted Kim and described diplomacy as a waste of time.
Last week, Tillerson appeared to soften the US stance on talks with North Korea amid spiking tension over its nuclear and missile programs.
He said the US was ready to hold exploratory talks without preconditions, but that North Korea would need to hold off on further weapons testing.
North Korea tested its sixth and most powerful nuclear weapon in September. It also tested three intercontinental ballistic missiles, including one whose theoretical range encompassed the entire US mainland.
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