Graham: ’30-percent chance’ Trump strikes North Korea

Known to use bellicose and dire language in describing the rising nuclear threat from North Korea, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said in an interview last week he believes there is a “three-in-10 chance” President Donald Trump strikes North Korea preemptively, in a bid to destroy its maturing nuclear weapons program.

If leader Kim Jong-un decides to conduct an above-ground nuclear test, Graham said those odds would increase to 70 percent.

Graham said that the issue of North Korea came up during a round of golf he played with the president on Sunday. “It comes up all the time,” he said.

“War with North Korea is an all-out war against the regime,” he said. “There is no surgical strike option. Their [nuclear-weapons] program is too redundant, it’s too hardened, and you gotta assume the worst, not the best. So if you ever use the military option, it’s not to just neutralize their nuclear facilities—you gotta be willing to take the regime completely down.”

“We’re not to the tipping point yet,” he added, but “if they test another [nuclear] weapon, then all bets are off.”

“I don’t know how to say it any more direct: If nothing changes, Trump’s gonna have to use the military option because time is running out.”

That said, Graham also noted that he supports direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea without many preconditions.

“I’m not taking anything off the table to avoid a war. … When they write the history of the times, I don’t want them to say, ‘Hey, Lindsey Graham wouldn’t even talk to the guy.’”

Still, he added: “I don’t care if North Korea becomes a Chinese protectorate. … I don’t care who [the Chinese] put in charge of North Korea, as long as that person doesn’t want to create a massive nuclear arsenal to threaten America. There are a couple ways for this to end: The Chinese could kill the guy if they wanted to, or they could just stop oil shipments [to North Korea], which would bring [Kim Jong Un’s] economy to [its] knees.” [source]

Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 2:  What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints? To subscribe to one of our threat intelligence newsletters: Click here.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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