White House likely to finalize N. Korea policy this month
By Chang Jae-soon
WASHINGTON, March 2 (Yonhap) -- The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to finalize its North Korea policy by the end of this month, diplomatic sources said Thursday, amid reports that the new policy could include the possibility of military force.
The White House has been conducting a review of North Korea policy in an effort to determine what the new administration could do differently to address Pyongyang's nuclear and missile threats. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that options in the new strategy include military strikes.
Sources said they expect a new North Korea policy to emerge within this month at the latest. Once the strategy is finalized, the White House is expected to pass it to government agencies handling the problem, rather than making it public, they said.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland convened a meeting two weeks ago with national security officials across the government and asked them to put forward proposal on how to deal with the North, "including ideas that one official described as well outside the mainstream."
The request was for all options, ranging from U.S. recognition of North Korea as a nuclear state to military action against Pyongyang and McFarland's directive was for the administration to undergo a comprehensive rethink of America's North Korea policy, the paper reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the process.
This week, officials reported back to the White House with their ideas and suggestions, the paper said.
In recent discussions with allies, U.S. officials have also underscored the possible military dimensions of their emerging strategy, including when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the U.S. earlier this month for talks with Trump.
During Abe's visit, U.S. officials told Japanese officials that all options were under consideration, the paper said. Sources were also quoted as saying that it was clear to Japanese officials that those options "encompassed a U.S. military strike on North Korea, possibly if Pyongyang appeared ready to test an ICBM."
Trump has expressed significant concern about North Korea.
After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, Trump said it "won't happen" for the North to develop a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. homeland.
Trump's concern deepened after the North fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Feb. 12.
In a media interview last week, Trump said he is "very angry" at the North's missile launch, and that it's too late to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He called the situation "very dangerous" and said China can solve the problem "very easily if they want to."
In a dinner with reporters on Monday, Trump also called the North "a world menace" that should be dealt with soon.
Earlier this month, he called the North "a big, big problem," a "really, really important" subject, and said he will deal with it "very strongly." After summit talks with Abe, Trump said that defending against the North's nuclear and missile threat is "a very, very high priority" for him.