National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said Sunday that the U.S. would pay for the $1 billion THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, despite recent remarks by President Trump about making Seoul pick up the tab.
Mr. McMaster also stressed that North Korea poses a “grave threat” to the U.S. and allies in the region and that Mr. Trump is determined to resolve the issue “one way or another.”
“What I told our South Korean counterpart is until any renegotiation, that the deals in place, we’ll adhere to our word,” Mr. McMaster said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Mr. Trump’s comments had caused unease in Seoul, and Mr. McMaster sought to reassure the ally in call earlier Sunday.
Mr. McMaster said in the interview that he was not contradicting Mr. Trump.
“The last thing I would ever do is contradict the president of the United States. And that’s not what it was,” he said. “What the president has asked us to do, is to look across all of our alliances and to have appropriate burden sharing-responsibility sharing. We’re looking at that with our great ally South Korea, we’re looking at that with NATO.”
Tensions have been rising on the Korean Peninsula amid missile tests by the reclusive and unpredictable communist regime in North Korea, which possesses nuclear weapons and is working on a intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S.
“This is something that we know we cannot tolerate,” Mr. McMaster said. “The president has made clear that he is going to resole this issue one way or another.”
He said that the U.S. would seek a diplomatic resolution, working with China and other allies in the region, but he wouldn’t take military action off the table.
North Korea also is believed to be planning its sixth nuclear test. Mr. Trump has warned against it.
Mr. Trump cautioned against dismissing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “insane,” a label many observers have applied to the young dictator. The president said the North Korean leader is “one smart cookie.”
“At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie,” Mr. Trump said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“But we have a situation that we just cannot let — we cannot let what’s been going on for a long period of years continue. And frankly, this should’ve been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should’ve been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should’ve been taken care of by Clinton,” Mr. Trump said.