Pentagon should move US dependants out of South Korea due to North's threat, says senator

A picture released by North Korea's KCNA showing the launch of the new intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-15 on Nov 29, 2017.
A picture released by North Korea's KCNA showing the launch of the new intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-15 on Nov 29, 2017.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday (Dec 3) urged the Pentagon to start moving US military dependants, such as spouses and children, out of South Korea, saying conflict with North Korea is getting close.

"It's crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea given the provocation of North Korea," Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CBS's Face The Nation. "So I want them (the Pentagon) to stop sending dependants and I think it's now time to start moving American dependants out of South Korea," Graham said.

The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

On Wednesday, North Korea tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can fly over 13,000 km, placing Washington within target range, South Korea said on Friday.

Graham said this development showed conflict is approaching.

"We're getting close to military conflict because North Korea is marching towards marrying up the technology of an ICBM with a nuclear weapon on top that can not only get to America, but deliver the weapon. We're running out of time," Graham told CBS.

The Pentagon referred questions to the Pacific command, which was not immediately available for comment.

White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster told Fox News Sunday that President Donald Trump is prepared to take action against North Korea but is working to convince China, Russia and other nations to use more economic pressure to help curb its nuclear ambitions.

"The president's going to take care of it by, if we have to, doing more ourselves. But what we want to do is convince others, it is in their interest to do more," McMaster said.

The Trump administration has repeatedly said all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea's ballistic and nuclear weapons programmes, including military ones, but that it still prefers a diplomatic option.