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U.S. will take action if North Korea delivers Christmas gift, official says

Kim Jong Un is seen in a picture

Kim Jong Un is seen in a picture taken on Saturday in Pyongyang and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency.  Credit: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Image/KCNA VIA KNS

The United States “will have to wait and see” whether North Korea follows through with a threat of a "Christmas gift" that put American officials on alert for long-range missile launches and nuclear testing, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday.

O’Brien, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” told anchor Jonathan Karl that “we always monitor the situation" with the North Korean government. In early December, Ri Thae Song, a top North Korean official, slammed U.S. rhetoric and said, "It is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get," according to published reports.

The comments came as the United States was working to get the North Koreans to denuclearize.

“Perhaps he's reconsidered that,” O’Brien said of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his threat. “But we will have to wait and see. We're going to monitor it closely. It's a situation that concerns us, of course.”

Last week, Trump made light of the threat to reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. "Maybe it's a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test," Trump said. "I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him. You don't know. You never know."

If the North Koreans conduct long-range missile tests, or nuclear tests, "the United States will take action, as we do in these situations … if Kim Jong Un takes that approach, we will be extraordinarily disappointed, and we will — we will demonstrate that disappointment," O'Brien said.

Also Sunday, O'Brien addressed reports that he was being considered to replace Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, should Pompeo decide to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas.

Calling Pompeo "a fantastic secretary of state," O'Brien said he spoke with Pompeo two nights ago and the secretary of state said he's not running for Senate.

"He was one of the president’s best picks for the cabinet," O'Brien said. "He’s a friend of mine. I enjoy working for him. I hope he doesn't leave."

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