By Justin Sink - 04/03/13 11:42 AM EDT
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Tuesday that the United States had the right to take preemptive military action against North Korea if there was "solid evidence" that Kim Jon Un planned to attack the U.S. or South Korea.
"If we have good reason to believe there's going to be an attack, I believe we have the right to take preemptive action," King said on CNN's "Erin Burnett Outfront."
Tensions in the region have deteriorated in recent weeks, with Pyongyang announcing Wednesday that it had barred South Korean workers from a jointly run industrial zone on the border between the two countries. That announcement came just a day after officials declared their intention to restart a shuttered nuclear reactor. North Korea has escalated tensions in recent weeks, declaring a "state of war" against South Korea and threatening to attack the United States.
North Korea's actions are thought to be driven by additional United Nations sanctions that resulted from its recent nuclear test. The United States has responded to Pyongyang's posturing with a series of military drills in the region, as well as a repositioning of naval ships in waters off the Korean peninsula.
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King said Tuesday night that "as of now, there's no deployment or movement or troops or any aircraft sea power whatever that would indicate any type of an attack." The White House has also suggested that North Korea's recent moves are largely symbolic, rather than substantive.
But in a telephone call Tuesday evening to Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned of a "growing threat" in the region.
"The secretary emphasized the growing threat to the U.S. and our allies posed by North Korea's aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and expressed to General Chang the importance of sustained U.S.-China dialogue and cooperation on these issues," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement obtained by Fox News.