US Senate Goes to the White House to Discuss North Korea

President Donald Trump, sitting next to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, speaks during a working lunch with ambassadors of countries on the United Nations Security Council and their spouses, Monday, April 24, 2017, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Back when you were in junior high, it was never a good thing when your parents, and your teachers, and your principal, and the guidance counselor, and maybe a social worker, and your priest and couple of cops all got together to discuss you. Rarely did anything good come of those sessions.

Via Reuters:

Top Trump administration officials will hold a rare briefing on Wednesday at the White House for the entire U.S. Senate on the situation in North Korea, senior Senate aides said on Monday.

All 100 senators have been asked to the White House for the briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the aides said.

While top administration officials routinely travel to Capitol Hill to address members of Congress on foreign policy and national security matters, it is unusual for the entire 100-member Senate to go to such an event at the White House, and for those four top officials to be involved.

The entire context must be considered when evaluating this meeting.

There are three US carriers off Korea. The USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group has finally arrived. The USS Nimitz finished certification trials a week ago and should be in waters near Korea by now. The USS Ronald Reagan is home-ported at Yokosuka, Japan. North Korea is playing will-he-won’t-he with a new nuclear test. All indications are that they have a weapon staged in the test area and are ready to pop it when they decide to. This morning President Trump hosted the UN Security Council ambassadors at a meeting in Washington, DC. North Korea was the main subject and Trump was clear that he was going to press for additional sanctions against that country.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday the U.N. Security Council must be prepared to impose new sanctions on North Korea, amid escalating tensions over its missile and nuclear programs, saying people had acted as if “blindfolded” for decades on a big problem that finally needed to be solved.

“The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable,” Trump told a meeting of U.N. Security Council ambassadors at the White House, held at a time of mounting concern that North Korea may be preparing a sixth nuclear bomb test.

“The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Trump said.

“This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not. North Korea is a big world problem and it’s a problem that we have to finally solve,” he said. “People put blindfolds on for decades and now it’s time to solve the problem.”

Earlier today, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was on the Today Show where she reiterated that the administration considers using military force in Korea a viable option.

Via The Blaze:

Co-host Savannah Guthrie asked Haley if a pre-emptive strike against North Korea was being considered and whether President Donald Trump’s administration was actively planning for such a move.

“We are not going to do anything unless he gives us reason to do something, so our goal is not to start a fight,” Haley said before Guthrie asked her to clarify what kind of action would qualify as a reason to strike.

Haley responded with several examples of possible actions by North Korea that could provoke a response from the U.S.

“If you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re gonna do that,” Haley responded. “But right now we’re saying don’t test, don’t use nuclear missiles, don’t try and do anymore actions, and I think he’s understanding that. And China’s really helping us put that pressure on him.”

Lauer asked Haley to clarify her remarks.

“If he tests another intercontinental ballistic missile, if he were to test another nuclear device — when you say obviously we’re going to do that, do you mean military retaliation?” Lauer asked.

“I think the president steps in and decides what’s going to happen,” Haley concluded.

Trump had a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping today, the general tenor of the coverage is this, via the New York Times:

China’s president, Xi Jinping, has urged President Trump to show restraint toward North Korea despite signs that the North may be preparing a nuclear test. Mr. Xi made the appeal in a phone call with Mr. Trump on Monday that reflected growing alarm over North Korea’s plans, which could tip the region into crisis.

But that doesn’t seem to be entirely correct. Chinese media published a full text of the call,

The cooperation mentioned in this tweet refers to cooperation between US and Chinese military forces. If you run the text through Google Translate you find Xi wants to “solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula as soon as possible and realize the denuclearization of the peninsula.”

The entire US Senate, not just the Senate leadership is being briefed. The only real takeaway from this is that the Trump administration is sending every possible signal that if North Korea tests a nuke that a decapitation strike may very well be carried out. And if they do conduct a nuclear test and nothing happens there will be hell to pay.