CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday he “could imagine” supporting National Security Advisor John Bolton’s idea to preemptively strike North Korea and possibly even launch a ground invasion of the nation, if it was directly threatening a nuclear attack against the United States.
Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) questioned Pompeo on whether or not he would support Bolton’s view during his confirmation hearing for secretary of state, adding that the Pentagon has projected an estimated 30,000 to 300,000 soldiers could die in a military conflict with North Korea.
“I suppose it’s possible that we would get to the condition where — and I think there would be wide consensus on this panel — where Kim Jong Un was directly threatening it,” said Pompeo. “If we had information about his activities, yes, I can imagine times when America would need to take a response that moved past diplomacy.”
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Markey said that he believes such an invasion would be “catastrophic almost immediately” and warned Pompeo that the American people would seek “reassurances” from him that no preemptive actions would be taken.
Pompeo said during the hearing that he thought there was “an awful long way to go” before the U.S. would exhaust its options and go forward with a military strike of any kind. He also said that he would use all “diplomatic tools and other tools” available to prevent military action.
In February, Bolton published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.”
In it, he outlined why he believes the U.S. “should not wait until the very last minute” to attack the nation.