Korea nuclear: White House calls Senate to briefing

Adjust Comment Print

(Kim Jun-hum/Yonhap via AP). USA military vehicle moves as South Korean police officers try to block residents and protesters who oppose a plan to deploy an advanced US missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, in.

The US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its battlegroup are due to arrive off the Korean peninsula after exercises with the Japanese navy.

Top Trump administration officials have asked the entire 100-member Senate to attend a briefing on North Korea at the White House on Wednesday, according to senior aides.

Every U.S. senator is invited to visit the White House today for a special briefing on the North Korean threat.

While North Korea's nuclear program has been a security headache for the USA and its allies for decades, the gathering Wednesday coincides with a concerted Trump administration push to change the calculus of US strategy amid growing concern as North Korea rushes to develop an arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles that could threaten allies such as South Korea and Japan and reach the American homeland. She says the USA wants "to test that hypothesis to the maximum extent we can" for a peaceful resolution.

South Korea's trumpeting of progress in setting up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system, or THAAD, comes as high-powered USA military vessels converge on the Korean Peninsula and as a combative North Korea signals possible nuclear and missile testing.

For his part, Trump said North Korea's "continued belligerence" was destabilising the Korean peninsula.

Mr Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, imposed sanctions over a year ago following a nuclear test and satellite launch by the North.

The meeting was set for one day after a North Korean holiday on Tuesday marking the 85th anniversary of the founding of its army.

THAAD has, however, proved controversial in South Korea, where protesters are anxious that it makes their country more of a target.

Admiral Harry Harris of the U.S. Pacific Command defended the move in a House committee hearing Wednesday. The statement says the United States is open to negotiations towards that end, but many even in Washington doubt the regime could ever accept such terms.

"If it flies, it will die", Harris said.

The varying expectations underscored the highly unusual nature of convening the session on White House grounds instead of on Capitol Hill, which administration officials said was merely a logistical decision rather than an attempt to convey any particular message.

"China is the key to this", said Sen.

McCain and Graham, who dined with Trump Monday, have long advocated for increasing the number of United States in troops in Afghanistan, claiming that troop withdrawals during the Obama administration led to a stalemate in the country.

"This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not".

The US already has extensive sanctions in place on North Korea, including a blanket ban on trade and a blacklist of anyone dealing with North Korea. SANCTUARY CITIES A US judge blocks Trump's executive order that sought to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities, dealing another legal blow to the administration's efforts to toughen immigration enforcement. Tillerson will chair a U.N. Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss tougher sanctions. "One of these days soon, he will succeed", Harris said. He said any North Korean missile fired at US forces would be destroyed. It vowed victory in a "death-defying struggle against the USA imperialists".

"This is the strongest-ever United States move related to the North Korean nuclear issue". The threat would extend to nearby Japan, another country North Korea regularly threatens.

China has been urging restraint by both Pyongyang and Washington. RETREAT ON THE WALL The threat of a US government shutdown this weekend appears to recede after Trump backs away from a demand that Congress include funding for his planned border wall with Mexico in a spending bill.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said THAAD would upset the region's "strategic balance".

Geng said "China will firmly be taking necessary measures to defend our own interests" but offered no details.