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Rice: US has failed in denuclearization of North Korea

Former national security adviser Susan Rice said Thursday that North Korea's expanding nuclear weapons program marks a "failure" on the part of the United States. 
 
"You can call [nuclear escalation] a failure. I accept that characterization over the last two decades," Rice said in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer. "But we are where we are. And now we need to decide how to proceed."
 
 
"When the president of the United States makes statements that could be mistaken for Kim Jong Un's, it runs a risk of a threat," Rice said. "We have to be careful. The rhetoric and hot language is itself a challenge. On the Korean side, the North Korean side, we run the risk that they miscalculate the message from the U.S. incorrectly and act."
 
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Rice's comments follow Trump this week saying that North Korea would be met with "fire and fury" should it continue to threaten the U.S. 

The former Obama administration national security adviser added that discussion on how to act on North Korea has turned to considering "pre-emptive war," saying such a decision would be "catastrophic."

"What I worry about is this discussion and preparation potentially for what the administration called preventive war or pre-emptive war, Rice said. "Pre-emptive war, if one was thinking of executing that, would be catastrophic for the Korean peninsula, the over 200,000 Americans that reside there, the 26 million people of Seoul, and for the global economy, a direct confrontation with China and a conflict that could go to the extreme of being nuclear."

"So a pre-emptive attack is not a good idea," she concluded.

 
Tensions have been heightened for months amid the accelerating pace of North Korea's ballistic missile tests and the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who had been held prisoner in the country for 17 months.

But the tensions reached a new high on Tuesday after it was reported that North Korea had developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead capable of being attached to a missile.

Trump responded to that development, telling reporters at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club that if Pyongyang's threats against the U.S. continued, North Korea would "be met with fire and fury ... like the world has never seen."

The president's inflammatory rhetoric quickly prompted a response from North Korea's military, which said that it was considering a pre-emptive strike on Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific that hosts about 6,000 American troops in addition to thousands of civilians.

North Korea on Wednesday escalated already-heightened tensions, warning that a plan to attack waters near Guam will be in place by mid-August and that Trump understands "only absolute force."