McMaster: Potential for war with North Korea 'increasing every day'

"I think it's increasing every day, which means that we are in a race to be able to solve this problem", he said at a forum on Saturday.

Last week, North Korea shattered 2½ months of relative quiet by firing off an intercontinental ballistic missile that some observers say showed the reclusive country's ability to strike the U.S. East Coast.

Still, the ability of the new missile to fly higher and longer than others in the past signals North Korea's intent to develop weapons capable of attacking the US.

At the end of November the United States unveiled fresh sanctions against the North, which it said were created to stop its funding of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

North Korea's first missile test since mid-September came a week after U.S. President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a U.S. list of countries it says support terrorism, allowing it to impose more sanctions.

While some U.S. military officials have referred to the missile launched Tuesday as a "KN 22" - a designation signaling the launch involves a new type of ICBM - other officials urge caution in categorizing the missile.

The US in response warned that Kim Jong-un's regimen would be "utterly destroyed" if its pursuit of a long-range nuclear missile arsenal provokes a military clash.

"Certainly, this new missile launch is a provocative act, which provokes further growth in tension and which moves us further away from the point where a settlement of the crisis can begin", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters. A minimum of nine votes are needed to win such a vote and China, Russia, the United States, Britain and France can not wield their vetoes.

The unit, comprising 1,000 special forces troops, is modelled after the US Army Rangers, Delta Force, SEAL Team Six, and Green Berets, according to a report by the Korean Times newspaper.

"More than 230 fighters from the US air force bases in Japan and South Korea including its latest stealth fighters F-22 Raptor and F-35, the USA major strategic assets as well as some 12,000 US troops are to participate in the said drill", said the spokesman.

"The situation clearly proves that the United States and the South Korean puppet war maniacs are just aggressors and provocateurs breaking peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula".

Kim first made the threat in September in response to Trump's United Nations speech threatening to destroy the North and mocking him as "Little Rocket Man".

Western analysts said it is more likely the truck was one of about half a dozen vehicles obtained years ago from China, which North Korea has modified since then.

  • Rogelio Becker