North Korea Needs to Stop ‘Bellicose’ Rhetoric: Pfeiffer

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer urged North Korea to end its “bellicose rhetoric” and “provocative actions.”

He stopped short of describing what response, if any, the U.S. would take if the regime launched a strike.

“We’ve seen the reports about North Korea moving missiles in. We wouldn’t be surprised if they did a test,” Pfeiffer said today on ABC’s “This Week” program. “This is absolutely a situation of concern.”

He declined to talk about “hypotheticals” and what the U.S. response would be to a missile launch. “North Korea needs to stop its actions,” Pfeiffer said.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime warned last week that “the moment of explosion is approaching soon” and said it’s poised to conduct a “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike.”

Kim’s regime has moved a missile to its eastern coast rocket launch site, possibly for test-firing, according to South Korea’s defense minister. North Korea was seen loading two mid- range missiles onto mobile launchers and hiding them in a facility near the east coast, Yonhap reported April 5, citing unidentified South Korean military sources. North Korea in the past has sought to mask its intentions and deceive surveillance tools by steps such as displaying dummy missiles and covering test sites.

North Korea on April 5 asked Russia and other countries to consider evacuating their diplomats from the capital as tensions mount with South Korea, warning that embassies can’t be protected in the event of a conflict.

Major War

“I could see a major war happening,” if North Korea continues ratcheting up the tension in the region, Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today.

The U.S. has postponed a test of a Minuteman III intercontinental missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to avoid exacerbating the situation, according to a Defense Department official who asked not to be identified. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the decision to re-schedule the test, which will probably be next month, the official said.

Asked on “Fox News Sunday” if postponing the missile test makes it look like the U.S. is caving in to North Korea, Pfeiffer said “absolutely not.”

“The onus is on North Korea to take a step back,” Pfeiffer said on Fox. “‘They are the source of the problem.’’

If North Korea doesn’t step back, ‘‘they will continue to further isolate themselves in the world,’’ Pfeiffer told Fox.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net; Danielle Ivory in Washington at divory@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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