(NationalSentinel)Â North Korea:Â The U.S. Senate was given a rare and unusual briefing on Wednesday by the White House’s top defense and intelligenceÂ chiefs regarding what has been reported as the “urgent national security threat” posed by North Korea’s advancing nuclear weapons program.
As reported by theÂ Washington Free Beacon:
The hour-long secret session for all senators was held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, and included a brief appearance from President Trump who made short, introductory remarks.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also took part in the session. His presence is an indication that military options for dealing with North Korea likely were discussed.
New steps by the administration will include the imposition of additional economic sanctions.
“The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Director of Intelligence Dan Coats said in a joint statement after the briefing.
The also noted that past diplomatic efforts to reign in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs have been fruitless.
“With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland,” they stated.
Senators in attendance who spoke to the media did not discuss specifics, but it was clear they were moved by the information they were provided:
Sen. John BarrassoÂ (R., Wyo.) told MSNBC the meeting was “very consequential” and included discussion of North Korea’s shift from liquid to solid fuel missiles, and improving nuclear weapons and missile capabilities.
Barrasso said he favors increasing sanctions, including sanctions on China.
Sen. Chris CoonsÂ (D., Del.) describedÂ the session as “very clear-eyed, sober and serious.”
Coons told MSNBC the administration wants toÂ avoid a conflict but isÂ “making it clear to China how serious we are about preventing North Korea from developing the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead by ICBM against the United States or one of our key allies, and that there are real efforts being made to avoid a misunderstanding or miscalculation because I do think this is a very dangerous circumstance and situation.”
During a recent visit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the U.S. was told that China did not hold as muchÂ sway over North Korea that Washington believed it had, U.S. officials said.
“I think it’s really an expression of how seriously the president is taking this, and that he wants to engage with Congress on it,” a senior administration official said of today’s brief, which has been scheduled for some time and is not in response to any events or conditions.