Trump team softens war talk, vows other pressure on NKorea

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North Korea's aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and carrier missiles is an "urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority" for the Republican administration, according to the statement. It made no specific mention of military options, though it said the U.S. would defend itself and friends. "North Korea's unlawful weapons programs represent a clear, grave threat to USA national security", the statement read.

The US have contraversially began installing the THAAD anti-ballistic missile system on South Korea in a bid to nip Kim Jong-un's budding nuclear capability in the bud.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Harris said he expects North Korea, under Kim's autocratic rule, to soon be able to develop a long-range missile capable of striking the United States, despite some spectacular failures in its ballistic missile program. "However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies", it said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

A targeted US attack to take out North Korea's nuclear weapons program could spark a wider war on the Korean peninsula, lawmakers and experts have warned.

The United States pledged Wednesday to step up sanctions to force North Korea to resume dialogue over its nuclear programme, but said it was not looking to bring Kim Jong-Un s regime to its knees. The briefing team was to meet later with House members in the Capitol.

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"It was a sobering briefing in which it was clear just how much thought and planning was going into preparing military options, if called for, and a diplomatic strategy that strikes me as clear-eyed and well proportioned", Coons said.

But perhaps the most theatrical element of all of this geopolitical choreography occurred at home, when he "invited" (summoned) the entire US Senate to the White House for a briefing on the issue.

"North Korea vigorously pursued a strategic strike capability in 2016", he told lawmakers on Wednesday. The same team also met with House members in the Capitol to outline the North's escalating nuclear capabilities and USA response options to what they called an "urgent national security threat".

The administration is hoping for greater Chinese cooperation after a summit between President Xi Jinping and Trump last month, and a senior White House official said Beijing now appeared to acknowledge North Korea as a threat to China, too.

On Wednesday, South Korea started installing key parts of a contentious US missile defense system that also has sparked Chinese and Russian concerns.

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Ahead of the meeting America's Pacific forces commander, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., told Congress that a controversial missile defense system in South Korea would be operational within days. The DPRK has issued nuclear threats and talk of military action, if necessary, from the United States.

Harris said the defenses of Hawaii were sufficient for now but could one day be overwhelmed, and suggested studying stationing new radar there as well as interceptors to knock out any incoming North Korean missiles.

The Agency for KIA Recovery & Identification at the Ministry of National Defense took note of the decisive help of 60 nations that sent troops and materials for South Korea fighting against the invading North Korea in the 1950-53 Korean War. "With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the USA homeland".

"In confronting the reckless North Korean regime, it's critical that we're guided by a strong sense of resolve, both privately and publicly, both diplomatically and militarily", Mr Harris said.

The warning comes after North Korea last week accused Australia of "blindly and zealously toeing the U.S. line" and threatened a nuclear strike.

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According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, the THAAD equipment arrived late Tuesday/early Wednesday in six trailers at the site of installation, a former golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

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