In response to reports President Donald Trump had met with his generals and the National Security Council to discuss his plans for dealing with North Korea, the White House released a statement Wednesday.
The statement, attributed to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, reads:
This morning President Donald J. Trump met with members of his national security team to receive a briefing from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford. The briefing and discussion focused on a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.
The response was followed by news from the Korean Peninsula that the president and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had agreed to increase the presence of U.S. “strategic assets” in the region as a show of “overwhelming military capabilities.” South Korea expects another missile or nuclear test to occur at any time.
And, the Yonhap News Agency reports:
The South Korean and U.S. militaries will soon formalize a plan to create a new combined command, which will become effective when Seoul regains its wartime operational control (OPCON) of the country's troops, the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday.
The allies plan to approve the scheme in their annual Military Committee Meeting (MCM) and Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) later this month, it told lawmakers. The MCM is an annual session involving the chairmen of the allies' Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). This year's meeting will be held in Seoul on Oct. 27, a day before the ministerial SCM.
"(The two sides) will authorize the creation of the future command of combined forces during the MCM and the SCM," the ministry said in a report for a regular parliamentary audit of its affairs.
The allies will then draw up a specific scheme to establish a system to have a South Korean commander and a U.S. deputy commander, it added.
The North, after a new round of ratcheting tensions Wednesday, claimed Thursday the president had “lit the wick of war.” Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told the Russian state-run TASS News Agency:
"With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us. We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words …
We have almost reached the last point on the journey toward our final goal—to achieve a real balance of power with the United States. Our principal position is that we will never agree to any talks in which our nuclear weapons will be the subject of negotiations."
Meanwhile, the president conceded in an interview with FOX News that his “calm before the storm” comment was a reference to North Korea. It is expected the storm, however, will likely be triggered by North Korea, which is expected to launch its newest “provocation” sometime before Oct. 18.
That day is the start of the 19th National People’s Congress in China, and it is considered unlikely Pyongyang would risk drawing the ire of President Xi Jinping during that time.