Washington (CNN): The Trump administration has said it’s ready to unleash American military might to back its diplomacy when it comes to preventing North Korea from developing a nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States.
But there is no easy military solution to the crisis and several of the options potentially under consideration could risk thousands of lives.
US officials told CNN last month that revised military options for North Korea have been prepared and were ready to be presented to President Donald Trump.
“What we have to do is prepare all options because the President has made clear to us that he will not accept a nuclear power in North Korea and a threat that can target the United States and target the American population,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said last month during remarks at a Washington think tank.
However it remains unclear whether those updated response options have been laid out for the President in the wake of North Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday — the second ICBM test conducted by Pyongyang within a month.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un touted the test as a success and claimed the “whole US mainland” is now within range of his missiles.
But last week a US official told CNN that the US government doesn’t believe North Korea will be able to launch a reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile until early 2018.
The official said that while North Korea can currently get a missile “off the ground,” a lot of undetermined variables remain about guidance, reentry and the ability to hit a specific target.
While all war game scenarios show the US winning a military confrontation, that victory could come at the cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths, mostly in South Korea where millions of innocent people — and nearly 30,000 US troops — are already in range of North Korea’s current missile capabilities.