NHK and Fuji TV reported on Thursday that National Security Advisor McMaster delivered a speech in Washington on Wednesday in which he expressed a strong sense of crisis over North Korea. According to NHK, McMaster said “the threat is much more immediate now” and that the U.S. will not hold talks with North Korea that could lead to further acceleration of its nuclear and missile development. He was also quoted as saying: “There’s recognition that there has to be more pressure on the regime. I think what you’ll see in coming days and weeks are efforts to do that.” He also reportedly said President Trump has instructed him “to prepare a range of options, including a military option,” while noting that nobody wants to take a military option and that the U.S. will continue to make diplomatic efforts to resolve the matter peacefully. McMaster also reportedly called for China to make further efforts. Asahi and Sankei published similar stories this morning.
In a related development, Yomiuri gave top play to a report saying that the USG has decided to impose financial sanctions on a Chinese company and individuals that have illegal dealings with North Korea. Kyodo News reported that the U.S. on Thursday blacklisted a Chinese company and two Chinese individuals for their ties to North Korea’s weapons development and accused a Chinese bank of laundering money for the sanctions-hit country, quoting Treasury Secretary Mnuchin as saying that the punitive measures are aimed at “maximizing pressure on the government of North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”