Former acting CIA chief: 'No good option' for dealing with North Korea

Michael Morell, a former acting CIA director, said on Tuesday that the United States' hands are largely tied in responding to North Korea's latest ballistic missile test.

During an appearance on "CBS This Morning," Morell warned against a military response to Pyongyang's weapons tests and flatly dismissed the notion of a diplomatic solution to the matter. 

"There is no good option here. There is no military option here to destroy [North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnUS diplomat says she's concerned about North Korea food shortages linked to pandemic Xi, Kim vow to strengthen North Korea and China's friendship, cooperation North Korea reports 'grave incident' related to COVID-19 MORE's] nuclear program, his missile program," Morell said. "There is no option to do that that wouldn't start a second Korean War, and wouldn't raise the possibility of him using nuclear weapons against his neighbors."

"The risks are extraordinarily high in a military standoff," he added. "There's also virtually no diplomatic issue here."


The precarious situation described by Morell, a former director of the CIA's Office of Asian Pacific and Latin American Analysis, followed what North Korea said is its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). 

Morell said it would likely be days before the U.S. determines whether the weapon was actually an ICBM. But if it is a long-range missile, it would mark a major milestone for North Korea's efforts to strike the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped projectile.

The Trump administration's responses to the test are limited, Morell said, and would likely include sanctions and efforts to improve U.S. missile defense systems.

"There's very little you can do, except sanction him every time he does something, and build our missile defenses — as we're doing in South Korea, in Hawaii, in California, Alaska — to defend ourselves."

President TrumpDonald TrumpRonny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign McCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel MORE has expressed growing frustration at the unwillingness or inability of China, North Korea's only major ally, to rein in Pyongyang's weapon program. 

In Monday night tweets after the latest missile test, the president called on Beijing to help "end this nonsense once and for all."