- REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
- President Donald Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, reportedly took a meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts to discuss North Korea.
- McMaster has reportedly been pushing Trump to strike North Korea, and allegedly dismissed the recent talks between North and South Korea as “diversions.”
- The US has backed off military drills that anger North Korea but stepped up pressure and military deployments in other ways.
H.R. McMaster, the US Army general and academic who leads President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, has reportedly attended secret meetings with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on North Korea.
McMaster, a noted hawk who is reportedly pushing for Trump to give North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a “bloody nose” by conducting a limited strike on the country, took meetings Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco where he stressed a need for the three countries to present a unified front against Pyongyang, according to the news website Axios.
In the meetings, Axios reports, McMaster dismissed North Korea’s recent thawing of tensions and talks to Pyongyang as “diversions,” noting that Kim still intended to develop nuclear weapons.
Axios’ report sheds light on one of the more inaccessible parts of Trump’s presidency, in which top staffers guide his hand on North Korea issues.
While many have looked to the recent talks between North and South Korea as a beacon of hope, it could be that McMaster is looking past them. Though the US and South Korea took a big step toward peace talks by delaying joint military drills until after the Paralympics conclude in mid-March, the US has stepped up pressure in other ways.
US officials are now discussing interdicting ships they suspect of heading into North Korea, and the US has deployed all three varieties of strategic bombers to Guam as tensions soar between the two countries.