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National security adviser H.R. McMaster. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

National security adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday defended President Trump’s escalating rhetoric directed at North Korea and said that he does not believe that the United States is any closer to war than it was a week ago.

“We have a very high degree of readiness, so the United States military is always locked and loaded, but the purpose of capable, ready forces is to preserve peace and prevent war,” McMaster said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

McMaster’s comments followed a week during which Trump warned of “fire and fury” and said the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues to threaten the United States with his development of nuclear missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Trump also made clear that the United States would not tolerate any action taken against the U.S. territory of Guam, as North Korea has threatened.

McMaster said that Trump “made clear that the United States will not tolerate our citizens or our allies being threatened by this rogue regime.”

He further argued that “there’s a much greater danger if there were to be any kind of degree of ambiguity in connection with the kind of response that Kim Jong Un could expect if he were to threaten the United States or our allies.”

“I think we’re not closer to war than a week ago, but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago,” McMaster told host George Stephanopoulos.

“This has been a problem that we’ve procrastinated on for a long period of time, but now it’s coming to a head, where the threat from North Korea not only to the United States but to the world, is very, very clear, and it demands a concerted effort from the United States, but with our allies, and with all responsible nations,” he added.