"I think it's increasing every day, which means we're in a race, really, we're in a race to be able to solve this problem," McMaster told an audience at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, He asked California if North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday had increased the chances of war.
President Donald Trump remains committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, said McMaster, adding that there are non-military ways of dealing with the problem, such as asking China to impose greater economic sanctions against Pyongyang. McMaster noted Beijing's "tremendous coercive economic power" over North Korea.
"There are ways to approach this problem less than the armed conflict, but it is a race because it is getting closer and closer, and there is not much time left." McMaster said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. With each missile launch or nuclear test, Kim has improved the capabilities of his country, said McMaster.
"We ask China not to do us or anyone else a favor," he said. "We ask China to act in the interests of China, as they should, and we believe more and more that China is urgently interested in doing more."
China should take unilateral measures to cut oil imports from North Korea, said McMaster. and adds: "you can not shoot a missile without fuel". He said both he and Trump thought a 100% oil embargo would be "appropriate at this time."
But the national security adviser said that it was extremely unlikely that Kim would change his behavior "without some significant new actions in the form of much more severe sanctions" and "full compliance with existing sanctions".
Regarding military options, McMaster acknowledged that given the deployment of conventional artillery and rockets from North Korea against Seoul, South Korea, "there is no military course of action that comes without risks". But he said Pyongyang's actions had made US alliances with Japan and South Korea "stronger than ever."