After a week of incendiary language from President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, administration officials Sunday tried to tamp down fears that the two nations are on the brink of nuclear war.

U.S. officials projected calm, a message directed as much to North Korea as to Americans, in a concerted effort to be more cautious in the language they use about the nuclear-armed nation and not further escalate an already perilous situation.

“An attack from North Korea is not something that is imminent,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Pompeo expanded on the potential for war, saying, “What I’m talking about is, I’ve heard folks talking about being on the cusp of a nuclear war.” But, he added, there is “no intelligence that would indicate that we’re in that place today.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster said that nearly a week of Trump’s threats to rain down “fire, fury and frankly, power” on North Korea were an attempt to remove any “ambiguity” about what North Korea could expect if the threats against the United States continue. But he said the language did not mean that war is inevitable or necessarily near.

“I think we’re not closer to war than a week ago,” McMaster said on ABCs “This Week.” “But we are closer to war than we were a decade ago.”

Their assessments mirrored one made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week while returning from talks in Asia. Tillerson, who has repeatedly rejected the idea that the United States seeks regime change in Pyongyang, said there is no imminent threat from North Korea and Americans should sleep soundly despite the fierce rhetoric coming from both capitals. On Friday, the day after Tillerson came home, Trump tweeted that the U.S. military was “fully in place, locked and loaded” for an attack on North Korea.

Asked on “This Week” if the United States is indeed locked and loaded, McMaster pivoted from military force to diplomacy.

“The United States military is locked and loaded every day,” McMaster said. He added that the United States has “tremendous military capabilities” and a “very high degree of readiness.”

“But the purpose of capable, ready forces is to preserve peace and prevent war,” he said, calling for concerted pressure on North Korea by the United States, its allies and “responsible” nations.

The pitch for more diplomacy came as Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went to Asia for a series of meetings. According to news reports from Seoul, Dunford meets Monday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and also is scheduled to visit Japan and China.

Tensions over North Korea’s arsenal, which Pyongyang says is to designed to protect the country from an invasion by the United States, have risen swiftly in recent weeks, but the administration remains focused on diplomatic efforts.

Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.