Controversial comments made by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50th District) calling for a “preemptive strike” on North Korea have drawn concern and criticism from national security experts.
Hunter, interviewed by the local news station KUSI, said North Korea has nuclear weapons aimed at the U.S. and San Diego.
“From my perspective, why would I not hit you first? Why not do a preemptive strike when you have ICMBs leveled at the U.S. and you’re not a logical player in the world scene,” said Hunter.
“I would preemptively strike them. You can call it declaring war, call it whatever you want, but preemptively striking them and taking them out, I personally think that’s the only thing to get them not to have nuclear missiles at the United States,” said Hunter.
The comments were made in support of President Trump's comments before the United Nations earlier in the week. The President said if forced to defend itself, the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
But while acknowledging the North Korean threat, national security expert Ron Bee called the comments dangerous and warned of consequences.
“You have to think of what sort of consequences down the road happen if you use a preemptive strike. What sort do you use?" Bee speculated. "He did not mention that. Should it be conventional? Should it be nuclear?”
He also said a preemptive strike would put millions of people at risk.
“That puts a lot of people at risk, especially in Seoul, where there are 2.5 million of our allies within artillery range and 10-thousand artillery pieces,” said Bee.
Meanwhile, the San Diego director of the Truman National Security project, Shawn Vandiver, had strong criticism for the congressman’s comments.
“The fact is, a preemptive strike from us results in tens of thousands of deaths, many of whom may be Duncan Hunter’s constituents, all of whom are American citizens or wearing our uniforms and that is absolutely unacceptable,” said Vandiver.
Congressman Hunter and his staff did not respond to a request from NBC San Diego for a follow-up interview.