Trump says "major, major" conflict with N.Korea possible, but seeks diplomacy

But the unpredictable communist nation rattled its saber all the same, with drills that served as a reminder of the threat it poses below the border to USA -allied South Korea.

"We do not seek regime change in North Korea", Tillerson said. Seoul lies only 25 miles from the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, well within artillery range.

They have also been pressing China to take a greater role in reining in its wayward neighbor.

The measure is the first action Congress is taking on the heels of the all-House and all-Senate briefings, as the Trump administration weighs steps to deter North Korea's nuclear and missile testing.

After Wednesday's all-House briefing from senior Trump administration officials on North Korea, Royce told reporters that the measure would be taken up quickly as a way to "choke off some of the hard currency that this regime uses for its nuclear program".

Several Senate Republicans described the full Senate briefing on North Korea at the White House Wednesday as a thorough accounting of the administration's diplomatic and military options when it comes to dealing with Kim Jong Un. "We ought to suspend judgment until we see how this develops in the coming days, months, so forth", the official said in response to a question. Lindsey Graham of SC told reporters Tuesday.

He said these were sufficient for now but could one day be overwhelmed, and suggested studying stationing new radar there as well as interceptors to knock out any incoming North Korean missiles.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday not to discount the chance of a military conflict with North Korea.

It's not a subtle message to send an aircraft carrier strike group into the region. The deployment was announced more than two weeks ago. At the same time, the USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk missiles, arrived at the South Korean port of Busan this week. The strike group includes Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, embarked Carrier Air Wing 2 and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, according to the U.S. Navy.

The testimony was the latest sobering reminder of growing US alarm about North Korean capabilities. Harris conceded that North Korean retaliation to any USA strikes could cause many casualties, but added that there was the risk "of a lot more Koreans and Japanese and Americans dying if North Korea achieves its nuclear aims and does what (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) has said it's going to do". It made no specific mention of military options, though it said the USA would defend itself and friends. "North Korea is not a Syria, it's not an Iraq".

China fears THAAD will weaken its own ballistic capabilities and says it upsets the regional security balance.

But he said, "if there's a war today, it's over there".

Some said they looked forward to hearing directly from Trump about his strategy moving forward. It said it would win in a "death-defying struggle against the USA imperialists". But a pre-emptive strike against North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities isn't likely.

China has long promoted dialogue to resolve the Korean nuclear issue as North Korea has repeatedly threatened to destroy the United States.

An unidentified mobile rocket lancher is displayed during a military parade marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung, in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017.

The unprecedented statement is apparently created to serve as the pinnacle of the Trump administration's weekslong show of force and warnings against an additional major provocation.

The United States and South Korea agreed past year to deploy the THAAD to counter the threat of missile launches by North Korea. Trump said Monday the council must be prepared to impose stronger sanctions.

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