White House: No 'red lines' on North Korea

The White House sought to cool public tensions with North Korea on Monday as press secretary Sean Spicer said he anticipated no "red lines" coming from the United States.

“Drawing red lines hasn’t really worked in the past,” Spicer said at Monday’s press briefing.

The spokesman repeatedly said he did not want to spell out options the administration was considering in response to North Korea, which conducted a new missile test over the weekend.

President Trump "holds his card close to the vest, and I think you’re not going to see him telegraphing how he’s going to respond to any military or other situation going forward,” Spicer said. “That’s just something he believes that has not served us well in the past.”

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have grown in the last week. North Korea celebrated the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder on Saturday with a military parade that saw missiles pass beneath the gaze of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

On Sunday, the North attempted a missile launch but failed, with U.S. Pacific Command saying the missile “blew up almost immediately.” Vice President Pence separately visited the demilitarized zone between the North and South and warned that the failed policy of "strategic patience" was coming to an end.

Spicer expressed hopes that Trump’s talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping are bearing fruit.

“The president had a really good meeting with President Xi down at Mar-a-Lago,” he said. “The results of that are paying off. I think you see China playing a much more active role with respect to North Korea, both politically and economically, that they can to continue to apply pressure to achieve results, and I think we’re going to continue to urge China to exhibit it’s influence in the region to get better results.”

Asked whether North Korea was “thumbing its nose” at China, as well as Trump’s warnings, Spicer said “there are a lot of tools left” to use to rein in Kim.

Asked whether the administration believes there are viable military options in North Korea, Spicer declined to take anything off the table.

“I think taking anything on or off the table is in itself limiting your options to some degree, so I’m not even going to discuss that,” he said. 

Even as Spicer appeared to tone down U.S. rhetoric, a senior North Korean official was accusing the United States of turning the Korean peninsula into “the world’s biggest hotspot” and creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.” 

The comments came from North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Kim In Ryong, who according to The Associated Press added that his country “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.”