McMaster says 'there's an international consensus' that North Korea threat can't continue

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster sits down with ABC News' Martha Raddatz for an exclusive interview on "This Week."
12:44 | 04/16/17

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Transcript for McMaster says 'there's an international consensus' that North Korea threat can't continue
Mr. Trump, do you have a red line with North Korea? Would you consider military action and how far would you let them go? We have -- tremendous has been just sucked out of our country by China. China says they don't have that good of control over north Korea. They have tremendous control. They have total absolute control practically of North Korea. I would get on with China. Let them solve the problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That's what we should do with North Korea. That was then-candidate Donald Trump during the new Hampshire primary debate. Saying that China should take care of North Korea. Back then, it was a hypothetical. Now it's a reality. What's president trump's position today? His national security adviser H.R. Mcmaster joins me now from Afghanistan. Good to see you, general Mcmaster. We'll get to your trip in Afghanistan in a moment. Let's talk North Korea. We know the missile test failed. What can you tell us about that? How long will it take to determine what happened there? Thank you, Martha. It's a privilege to be with you. The latest missile test fits into a pattern of provocative behavior on the part of the north Korean regime. Think there's an international consensus now, including the Chinese. The Chinese leadership that this is a situation that just can't continue. And the president has made clear that he'll not accept the united States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons. We're working together with our allies and partners. And with the Chinese leadership to develop range of options. And, the president has asked the national security council to integrate the efforts of the department of defense, state, intelligence agencies to provide options and have them ready for him if this pattern of destabilizing behavior continues and if the north Korean regime refuses to denuclearize. Which is the accepted objective of the United States and Chinese leadership as well as our allies in the region. I want to go back to the missile if I could for a moment. Apparent lirks it was a medium-range ballistic missile. Can you talk about what we with saw in the parade and the missiles they showed there? Was it an icbm? I don't know. I've not been in touch with our intelligence community on that. I would defer to our intelligence communities and the department of defense on that particular question. Of course, the purpose of that parade is to sort of demonstrate military prowess in a threatening way. And so whether those weapons are real or fake is -- is unclear. I think, to at least -- I saw it on television, lie you did, no, you saw it better than I did. I think you were close by. I was a little closer than you were. Back to what you were saying before. Today, a white house foreign policy adviser briefed reporters on vice president pence's flight to Seoul. Saying had North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, other actions would have been taken by the U.S. What would have happen snd what was he talking about? The president's made it very clear he's not in the business of announcing in advance what he's going to do in a particular situation. I think what you saw last week with the president's decisive response to the Assad regime's mass murder of innocent people, including children wsh chemical weapons, that this national security team is capable of rapidly responding to those sorts of incidents and events and providing the president with options. Our president is clearly KO ly comfortable making decisions. The military option is on the table? All options are on the table. How close do you think north Korea is to having a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States? What is clear is that as long as their behavior continues, as longs they continue, mizle development, etch though this was a failed missile, they get better. They learn lessons. So, what's critical for them is to stop this destabilizing behavior. Stop the development of the weapons. Denuclearize. That is in the best interests of the people of the region. North Korea's foreign minister said the trump administration is more vicious and more aggressive. Saying that trump's aggressive tweets were making trouble. Does the aggressive language increase the likelihood of conflict? I think it should make clear to the north Korean regime that it is in their best interest to stop the development of these missiles and to denuclearize the peninsu peninsula. It's clear that the president is determined not to allow this kind of capability to threaten the United States. And our president will take action that is in the best interests of the American people. One of the big concerns here is how north Kia would respond to aggressive action or some sort of preemptive strike. How do you think they would respond? That is particularly difficult. This regime is unpredictable. Someone who has demonstrated his brutality by murdering his own brother, by murdering others in his family. By imprisoning large numbers of people in horrible conditions for no reason. For political reasons. So this regime has given the world reason for concern. And that -- that includes the Chinese people. The Chinese leadership as well. What Kim Jong-un is doing is a threat to all people in the region. And globally as well. This is someone who has said not only does he want to develop a nuclear weapon. He wants to use to it coerce others? He said he was willing to proliferate nuclear weapons once he develops them. And so this is a grave threat to all people. You heard what president trump said about China in that primary debate. They said this week after listening to president XI, he realized it's not so easy. Are you truly confident you can get China to pressure north Kia in a meaningful way? Well, we'll see what happens. What we do know is that in the midst of responding to the mass murder of the Syrian regime, the president and the first lady hosted an extraordinarily successful conference, summit, with president XI and his team. And not only did they establish a very warm relationship. But since that time, they have work Ed together on other issues. On North Korea. And in connection with the response to the mass murder of -- on the party of the Assad regime. In connection with the U.N. Vote. Think president XI was courageous in distancing himself from the Russians and the believe Bo live yans. This on the same day that president trump hosted the secretary general of nato, repping our wonderful nato Alice. The world saw that. What club do you want to be in in the russian-bo live Yan club or the club with the united States, working together on mutual interests, peace, security, I think it was great week for the United States. And thanks mostly to our president. You sound very confident. President trump sounds confident. One final question. Every president since bill Clinton has said the U.S. Will not tolerate a neuroleer-armed North Korea. They have only grown stronger in their capabilities. Why do you think president trump will have a different outcome? Well, as you mentioned, this is a problem that has been passed down from multiple administrations. But, our president, I think it's the consensus with the president, our key allies in the region, Japan and South Korea in particular, and the Chinese leadership, that this is coming to a head. It's time to take all options we can, short of a military option, to resolve it peacefully. We'll rely on allies, like we always do. We'll rely on chi naez leadership. Tho North Korea is very dependent on China. All energy requirements are fulfilled by China. In the coming weeks, months, I Thi think there's great opportunity for all of us under the threat of this regime is to take action, short of armed conflict to avoid the worst. I want to turn to Russia and Syria. Secretary of state Rex tillerson visited this week and said relations were at a low point. But the president tweeted Thursday, things will work out fine between the usa and Russia. There will be lasting peace. What suddenly gives him that confidence? When relations are at the lowest point, there is nowhere to go but up. The secretary's visit to Russia was perfectly timed. Russia has given support to a murderous regime in Syria that has perpetuated a war. And the brutal efforts and actions of ISIS have -- brought suffering to so many people. Have created a crisis within Syria that has bled over into Iraq and neighboring countries and Europe. Russia's sport for that kind of horrible regime that is a party to that kind of conflict is something that has to be drawn into question as well as Russia's subversive actions in Europe. I think it's time, though, now, to have those tough discussions with Russia. There's nobody better to do it than our secretary of state. And also to find areas of cooperation. Where do our interests align? Do you think we need more U.S. Troops in Syria? That remains to be seen. I don't think so. What we're doing now is supporting partner forces in Syria and in certain portions of the country. Including the northeastern part of the country. Along the euphrates river valley. It's a matter of time, only, until ISIS is defeated there. What will be critical is what forces can then establish enduring security in those regions that have legitimacy with the population. That are representative of the population. That can set conditions for reconstruction to begin. The cities of the sunni-arab world in that region are in rubble. In a successful conference if Washington two weeks ago, the United States state department organized a bunch of donors and like-minded allies to pledge money for reconstruction. We need a security situation that's conducive to that reconstruction. That can allow so many of the displaced people and refugees to return. And for those long-suffering people to enjoy the security, stability they deserve. I want to finish on your trip to Afghanistan. It's remarkable to think that we have been fighting there since 2001. What haven't we done that we should have? And are more troops needed there? What's clear is the stakes are high. I mean this is -- this is really the modern day frontier between barbarism and civilization. And so, with those high stakes in mind, recognizing that the Taliban groups we're fighting here, that the ISIS groups that we, alongside really the Afghan forces are really fighting. We're enabling them in the eastern part of the country, are a threat to all civilized peoples. The president has asked for a range of options. And we'll give him those options. We'll be prepared to execute whatever decision he makes. We have to leave it there. General Mcmaster great talking with you, thank you. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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