Trump official denies US planning 'bloody nose' strike on North Korea

Trump official denies US planning 'bloody nose' strike on North Korea
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The Trump administration does not have a “bloody nose” strategy for North Korea, according to a bipartisan pair of senators and an administration official.

“I had a briefing with some other senators yesterday with someone from the White House who made it very clear that there is no bloody nose strategy for a strike against North Korea, and we asked if we could go out and quote him on that, and he said yes,” Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (D-N.H.) said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Thursday.

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Shaheen was speaking at a confirmation hearing for several State Department nominees, including Susan Thornton, currently the acting assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs who has been nominated to stay in the role permanently.

Shaheen asked Thornton if that was her understanding as well of U.S. strategy.

“That is my understanding senator, yes,” Thornton replied.

Reports have surfaced in recent months that administration officials are considering a limited preemptive strike against North Korea to show the United States is serious about stopping the country’s nuclear weapons development. The hope would be that North Korea gets the message and does not strike back.

The reports have alarmed several lawmakers and experts, who warn North Korea would assuredly strike back, potentially killing thousands who live in Seoul, South Korea, which is within range of the North’s artillery. That in turn could spark a larger war, as the United States would be hard-pressed to defend its ally.

Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischMcCain’s death marks decline of Trump’s GOP Senate critics Overnight Health Care: Senate approves massive bill including health spending | Bill includes drug pricing measure | Move to block Planned Parenthood funding fails Overnight Defense: Senate passes massive defense, domestic spending bill | Duncan Hunter to step down from committees | Pompeo names North Korea envoy MORE (R-Idaho) also said the administration assured him there is no bloody nose strategy.

“I want to thank Sen. Shaheen for bringing up the, quote, bloody nose strategy,” Risch said. “I was in the same meeting she was in yesterday, and all of us have been shaking our heads. The national media did what it always does, and they’ve reported that the president’s been advised on this and this is one of the options that we have.

"And we were told clearly by administration people as about as high up as it gets that there is no such thing as a bloody nose strategy, that they’ve never talked about it, they’ve never considered it, they’ve never used that term, and it is not something that people ought to be talking about.”

Risch added that it's "a good thing” the strategy has never been talked about.

“Obviously, that thing has repercussions that one can’t even imagine,” he said.

The denial of any bloody nose strategy comes after the Trump administration has expressed more openness to talking with North Korea.

In an interview with The Washington Post when he was returning from the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Vice President Pence said the administration is willing to talk with Pyongyang. 

“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” Pence said Sunday. “So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”