The Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Administration chose to negotiate with North Korea last year rather than risk war. Tensions between the two countries reached a critical point last June when the United States threatened to seek international economic sanctions against the North.
Because the North said it would view sanctions as an act of war, the official said, the United States also took steps to increase the combat readiness and power of American and South Korean forces on the Korean peninsula.
We were ready to seek economic sanctions against North Korea, something Pyongyang said it would consider an act of war. As a result, we were also preparing for a substantial military buildup in South Korea, where we already have 37,000 troops. Fortunately, North Korea agreed to negotiations that ultimately led to an agreement to halt its current nuclear program. The crisis ended without conflict.
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