Pentagon: No change in military posture after North Korea talks fall through
Pentagon officials on Thursday said the military had not “in any way” changed its posture on the Korean Peninsula after President Trump canceled his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“There is a high state of vigilance, that state of vigilance that we’ve always had because they have proven to be unpredictable in the past,” Joint Staff Director Kenneth McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon, referring to North Korea.
“We want to be ready to respond quickly to anything, but it’s not a heightened state of vigilance. It’s the normal state of vigilance that we maintain.”
McKenzie added that the $700 billion fiscal 2018 budget, passed earlier this year, “will improve the readiness of the military, including forces that might be called upon to deploy and fight if we had to conduct operations on the Korean Peninsula.”
Trump earlier Thursday scrapped his June 12 nuclear summit with Kim in Singapore, citing the Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” toward the United States.
“I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter to Kim, released by the White House.
The president noted in the letter that while Kim likes to “talk about” his nuclear capabilities, “ours are so massive and so powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
And speaking later at the White House, Trump upped the rhetoric by saying his “maximum pressure campaign” against North Korea would continue and said the military “is ready if necessary” if Kim responds with any aggression.
“I’ve spoken to [Defense Secretary James Mattis] and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world that has been greatly enhanced recently, as you all know, is ready if necessary,” Trump said.
Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White confirmed that Mattis spoke to the president earlier in the day, but would not say whether the secretary expressed disappointed with the summit being scrapped.
“The secretary is used to dynamic situations, this is a dynamic situation,” White said. “This is nothing new to him … but the secretary was always of a cautiously optimistic about where this would go. And he was very firm about we continue to support our diplomats.”
Asked if the Pentagon anticipates any provocations from Pyongyang in light of Trump’s language, McKenzie said he couldn’t speculate but added, “We’ll be ready if it happens.”
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