All 100 U.S. senators have been summoned to attend a classified briefing at the White House today at 3:00 p.m. ET to discuss the increased provocations of North Korea. The briefing is coming after United States warships arrived in South Korea and the U.S. Air Force test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from a base in California in a show of force.
At 12:03 a.m. Wednesday morning, the U.S. Air Force test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The nuclear-capable missile was unarmed and reportedly traveled over 4,000 miles before splashing down in the South Pacific.
According to Fox News, the meeting will occur in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building auditorium, which will be made into a “sensitive compartmented information facility” [SCIF]—meaning top secret information will likely be shared.
The meeting will be attended by some of Trump’s top cabinet members, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—who will chair the meeting– and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
Tillerson was interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation” earlier this month and was asked about Trump’s interaction with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi. Tillerson said he thinks that Xi agrees that the situation “has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken.”
The situation has appeared to only intensify over the past 24 hours. Pyongyang conducted a huge live-fire drill that involved up to 400 artillery pieces, according to Reuters. A nuclear-powered Ohio class submarine, the USS Michigan, pulled into the South Korean port of Busan for a “routine” hull check.
Japan has warned that Pyongyang has made technological advancements, and may be capable of launching a missile tipped with sarin nerve gas. Japan estimated that its people would have about 10 minutes to prepare once a missile is launched from the country. Tokyo has been practicing evacuation drills.
Ahead of the White House briefing, South Korea began installing key parts of a U.S. defense system against missiles from North Korea, the AP reported.
An America’s Pacific commander assured Congress that incoming North Korean missiles would be destroyed. “If it flies, it will die,” Adm. Harry Harris Jr. said.
South Korea’s trumpeting of progress in setting up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, comes as high-powered U.S. military vessels converge on the Korean Peninsula and as a combative North Korea signals possible nuclear and missile testing.
North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its million-person Korean People’s Army. On the same day, a U.S. guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea. The USS Carl Vinson aircraft supercarrier also is headed toward the peninsula for an exercise with South Korea.
At a House Armed Services Committee, Harris rejected reports that the Carl Vinson group is vulnerable to North Korean attacks. The commander of U.S. Pacific Command said North Korea doesn’t have a weapon that can threaten the group.
But Harris also said he expects North Korea to soon be able to develop a long-range missile capable of striking the United States, despite some spectacular failures in its ballistic missile program.
“Just as Thomas Edison is believed to have failed 1,000 times before successfully inventing the electric light bulb, so too, Kim Jong-Un will keep trying,” Harris said. “One of these days soon, he will succeed.”