President Donald Trump's national security advisor says the United States must be ready for possible military operations against North Korea.
That statement comes as the rogue regime tested another ballistic missile over the weekend.
The president is inviting leaders of Pacific nations to the White House to talk about standing firm against the growing threat. He's warning U.S. allies in Asia that the world cannot accept a North Korea with nuclear weapons.
"Eventually he (Kim Jong Un) will have a better delivery system, and if that happens, we can't allow it to happen," the president told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
Trump spoke to the prime ministers of Thailand and Singapore over the weekend, urging them to put pressure on the communist regime of Kim Jong Un.
"This is a mission-driven president who spends a lot of time working with our allies and talking to his experts on how to handle the situation and do it wisely," said White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
The White House has already said America's "era of strategic patience" with North Korea is over.
"We have a situation where lots of administrations before us, and many others have just watched this situation transpire, watched North Korea build the capabilities that it has today, and watched them put missiles in the mountainsides, and here we are today," Priebus added.
The phone calls with the Asian leaders come as the North tested another ballistic missile early Saturday - though it blew up seconds after launch.
Despite the missile failure, North Korea says it will continue testing nuclear weapons, aiming to bolster its abilities "to the maximum."
Meanwhile, the U.S. is urging North Korea's closest ally, China, to do more to restrain the regime in Pyongyang.
In an unusual move, China's semi-official Global Times newspaper criticized North Korea's continued belligerence and questioned the communist nation's missile technology following several launch failures.
"The test's failure shows that the country's missile technology is not mature, and that the missile-launching vehicle paraded on the Day of the Sun not long ago may have only been a mock-up," the Times wrote.
The paper claims North Korea deploys "an outdated confrontational mentality" to gain world attention.
"Missile tests are North Korea's way of expressing its dissatisfaction, and the most recent test is a typical example," the paper said.
Still, Trump's national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster said North Korea's recent test is another sign of their open defiance.
"North Korea poses a grave threat to the United States. Our great allies in the region - South Korea and Japan in particular - but also to China and others," McMaster told Fox News.
"The president has made clear that he is going to resolve this issue one way or the other. What we prefer to do is to work with others, China included, to resolve this situation short of military action," he said.
That means, McMaster said, working to enforce current U.N. sanctions and perhaps ratcheting them up.
"So we have to do something, again, with partners in the region and globally, and that involves enforcement of UN sanctions that are in place. It may mean ratcheting up those sanctions even further. And it also means being prepared for military operations, if necessary."
The news comes as the House is poised to debate and vote on a bill to authorize new sanctions against the communist regime Monday night.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce says the measure will target the North's shipping and financial divisions with new sanctions and will also crack down on the use of slave labor.
It also calls for the Trump administration to determine within 90 days whether North Korea should be re-named as a state sponsor of terrorism. This is something White House officials are considering.
So far, the bill has the support of New York Rep. Eliot Engel, who is the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel.
Meanwhile, Trump also talked with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and invited him to the White House.
Duterte has been accused of committing "crimes against humanity" for an anti-drug campaign that has seen more than 8,000 killed since he came into office last summer.
President Trump is facing criticism for inviting him, but the Trump administration says the move is necessary.
"It doesn't mean that human rights don't matter," Priebus told ABC's "This Week."
"What it does mean is that the issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure we have our ducks in a row."
Hours after North Korea's failed missile test Saturday, president Trump tweeted
North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2017
Trump praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as a "pretty smart cookie," but added he "would not be happy" if the rogue regime conducted another nuclear test.
"People are saying, 'Is he sane?' I have no idea," Trump told CBS' "Face the Nation."
"I can tell you this, and a lot of people don't like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He's dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others."
"And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie," Trump added.
When asked by CBS why North Korea's missiles "keep blowing up," Trump said, "I'd rather not discuss it."
"We shouldn't be announcing all our moves," he said. "It is a chess game. I just don't want people to know what my thinking is."
The White House believes North Korea presents a clear and present danger.
"We cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue," Trump said. "Frankly, this should have been done and taken care of by the Obama administration, should have been taken care of by the Bush administration, should have been taken care of by Clinton."
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