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Trump national security adviser: ‘Range of options’ being developed to respond to North Korea

National security adviser H.R. McMaster and lawmakers of both parties on April 16 reacted after a North Korean missile launch failed. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

President Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Sunday that the United States is exploring “a range of options” to respond to an increasingly provocative North Korea but that the administration would like “to take action short of armed conflict, so we can avoid the worst.”

McMaster’s comments came on a weekend during which North Korea staged a huge parade in Pyongyang to showcase its military prowess and later launched a ballistic missile that exploded within seconds.

The missile "blew up almost immediately" off the Korean peninsula's east coast, according to U.S. Pacific Command. (Video: Reuters)

Appearing on “This Week” on ABC News, McMaster called the failed test part of “a pattern of provocative and destabilizing and threatening behavior on the part of the North Korean regime.”

N. Korea didn’t test a nuclear weapon, but it did try to launch another missile

“The president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons,” he said, adding that Trump ultimately “will take action that is in the best interest of the American people.”

Both McMaster and other Trump administration officials on Sunday stressed that China could play a stepped-up role in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

McMaster said the United States is working with allies in the region, as well as China, to “undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”

Trump breaks silence on North Korea, defends reversal on China

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland said Trump and President Xi Jinping had spent hours talking about options involving North Korea during the Chinese leader's recent visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

McFarland urged patience to allow Xi to use trade measures and other tools to pressure North Korea. About 80 percent of North Korea's trade is with neighboring China.

“It’s like your kids in the back of the car on a long trip saying, ‘When are we going to get there?' ” McFarland said. “Well, in this case, I think we should give the Chinese president some opportunities and some time, as well as pursuing the economic and diplomatic pressures that we have and that our allies have that we can bring to bear on North Korea.”

McFarland, speaking from Palm Beach, said she had briefed Trump on North Korea's actions on Saturday night, including what she characterized as a “fizzle” of a missile launch.

“It’s not a surprise,” she said. “Even in the last year, President Kim of North Korea has launched over 30 missiles. Most of them have failed. So it didn’t come as a surprise to us. We were expecting something surrounding the birthday of his grandfather.” Saturday was the anniversary of the 1912 birth of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder and the current leader’s grandfather.

Asked by host Chris Wallace about speculation that the United States had somehow sabotaged the missile launch, McFarland declined to comment.