The letter – addressed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and written during the Congressional recess – expressed the legislators’ “profound concern over the statements made by President Trump that dramatically increased tensions with North Korea and raised the specter of nuclear war”.
Mr Trump had recently declared that he would send “fire and fury” to North Korea if they did not cease their threats to the United States. At a press conference on Thursday, he mused that the warning “may not be tough enough”.
Mr Trump’s statements, the Congress members wrote, “are irresponsible and dangerous, and also senselessly provide a boon to domestic North Korean propaganda which has long sought to portray the United States as a threat to their people”.
The group called upon the Trump administration to support the constitutional amendment requiring a preemptive nuclear strike to be authorised by Congress – an idea supported by several Republican Congress members, too.
Mr Tillerson has been a moderating voice in the conflict of late, telling Pyongyang in a statement that the US is ”not your enemy, we are not your threat”.
“We would like to sit and have a dialogue about the future,” Mr Tillerson said.
Mr Mattis warned on Wednesday that North Korea’s actions “will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours,” and that Pyongyang should “cease consideration of actions that will lead to the end of the regime and destruction of its people”.
National security adviser HR McMaster has also warned that a preventative strike remains a possibility.