April 2nd, 2013
08:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Top congressman sets bar for military strike on North Korea

(CNN) - The United States would be right to launch a military strike against North Korea if there is "solid evidence" that it plans to attack America or South Korea, a congressional Republican influential on national security matters said on Tuesday.

"If we have good reason to believe there's going to be an attack, I believe we have the right to take preemptive action," Rep. Peter King of New York said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

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King, the former chairman of the House Homeland Security, continues to sit on that panel as well as the Intelligence Committee.

"I don't think we have to wait until Americans are killed or wounded or injured in any way," he said. "I'm not saying we should be rushing into war, don't get me wrong, but if we have solid evidence that North Korea's going to take action, then i think we have a moral obligation and an absolute right to defend ourselves."

He would not consider such a move preemptive.

"To me that would be stopping an attack that's about to happen," King said.

He warned this weekend that North Korea was not bluffing with a flurry of bellicose rhetoric and recent threats by its leader, Kim Jong Un, to wage war against the United States and South Korea.

Pyongyang has also severed a key military hotline with Seoul, declared void the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, and announced it would restart a nuclear reactor.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday the United States was capable of defending itself and would not accept North Korea as a nuclear state.

He said at a joint briefing in Washington with South Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se that what Kim Jong Un "is choosing to do is provocative. It is dangerous, reckless."

King said he gives the Obama administration credit for the tough line it has taken so far.

Combined with forceful statements in support of its allies, the United States has displayed its armed prowess during annual military training exercises with South Korea. It has flown B-2 stealth bombers capable of carrying conventional or nuclear weapons, Cold War-era B-52s and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters over South Korea.

"We have no need to panic but this is the most sustained, I would say, type of pressure or fulminations we've seen coming from the North in quite a while," King said.

He stood by his remark Sunday that North Korea is not run as a government but as a crime syndicate.

"When I made the reference to them being an organized crime family rather than a government, I was actually trying to make a serious point in that unlike the Soviet Union with whatever faults it had, it was trying to provide a society for its people," he said.

"It was a misguided society but North Korea is basically just to keep a ruling elite in place the fact that so many people have starved, the fact that people live under terrible conditions is not a government in any sense of the word," King said.

King added that he had not seen intelligence from the last several days, but "as of now there's no deployment or movement or troops or any aircraft sea power whatever that would indicate any type of an attack."

Filed under: John Kerry • Peter King
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Peter King / Johnny Walker Red 2016

    April 2, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. CMI

    OK finally one of the old Bush WMD guys who isnt cowering in fear of Mr. Un. Wheres the rest of the strike now crowd who rushed us inot Iraq with zero basis in fact. The silence is deafening. Is it the lack of oil wells in North Korea or the fact that they might fight back. Which is it?

    April 2, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  3. wmontanye

    Why is the first response from Republicans WAR... That's the last thing we need.. Let NATO do it's job...

    April 2, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  4. Tony in Maine


    And yes, I'm shouting because I can't afford to buy a Congressman so I've got to yell to be heard – not that it'll do any good. I'm just a voter, not one of the chosen.

    April 2, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Time to let things cool off. Stop the bellicose rhetoric and posturing. We should not copy the crazy pronouncements of war coming out North Korea.

    April 2, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |

    We have heard it all before king and how did that work out for us?

    April 2, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  7. Al-NY,NY

    Thanks windbag chicken hawk. Any military action must be brought by IRREFUTBLE evidence. The party of war and nation building and "mission accomplished" is itching for action....

    April 2, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. ak_steve

    Preemption is a dangerous and slippery slope. Before you know it the GOP will use preemption, and the Americans willingness to be gullible sheep, to attack anyone. Welcome back to McCarthyism.

    April 3, 2013 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  9. J.V.Hodgson

    Yeah King, " solid evidence" just like Iraq? Pre-emptive strikes = doing the impossible predicting the future!!
    Will he get real. if a pre-emptive nuclear strike is made against N Korea does he honestly think China would not side with North korea?
    With lunatic thinking like that I want him voted out of office now!! I dont care of which party he is a member!!

    April 3, 2013 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  10. Marie MD

    The hawks in congress must be close to a climax!
    Let's hope the President and diplomacy through China and our own government can prevent another needless war.

    April 3, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  11. Name Uche Agonsi

    If you have a choice to settle a dispute between kind words & a gun, its advisable to go for kind words. The Repubs seem to have penchant for muscle flexing....US, should realise that inspite of military capabilities,it still hasn't infinite capacity to prosecute all wars.

    April 3, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  12. Warren

    Just like a Republican, Let's go to war....I would hope that USA would be more the able to defend against an attack by North Korea. Let NATO do their job..

    April 3, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  13. ronvan

    And the warmoners arise! AGAIN!! For me, a preemtive strike is a NO NO. YES, we have the capability to wipe out NK within a couple of days. BUT, if anything goes wrong, civilians killed, then the U.S. is going to look like the aggressor and will be condemned. Sadly, again for me, we need to let NK make the first move and then go in with airpower, drones, missles, etc.. Anyone who has been stationed in SK or visited knows what kind of terrain ground troops would fight in and it would be a mess!

    April 3, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  14. Tony

    I am not usually a war monger because i know the pain and sorrow war can cost trust me i been there but for the very first time i agree with rep king, this guy is getting out of hand and needs a reality check, he thinks war is a game.

    April 3, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  15. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Isn't that how we got involved in Iraq? Why should we do anything this IRA shill is calling for.

    April 3, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |