The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on Thursday said that military options against North Korea’s nuclear threats are “horrible,” but that it was necessary for the U.S. to have them prepared.
Speaking to media in Beijing, General Joseph Dunford said that President Trump had “told us to develop credible viable military options and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” AP reported.
The JCS chairman said Washington would not allow the DPRK to develop a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile that could strike the mainland.
Dunford said that it’s “absolutely horrific if there would be a military solution to this problem, there’s no question about it.”
“What’s unimaginable is allowing [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] to develop ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead that can threaten the United States and continue to threaten the region.”
Dunford’s comments after White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said that there was “no military option” to deal with North Korea – in stark contrast to recent comments by President Trump.
“Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us,” Bannon told The American Prospect on Tuesday.
Bannon also said that he would consider a deal with North Korea in which Pyongyang would freeze its nuclear development in exchange for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South – but accepted that such a deal was a remote possibility.
On Friday the President tweeted that U.S. military options against Pyongyang were “locked and loaded.”
Tensions on the Korean peninsula appear, however, to have de-escalated this week, with Trump on Wednesday saying Kim Jong Un had made a “wise and well-reasoned decision” to postpone an alleged plan to strike the U.S. territory of Guam.
Dunford visited South Korea on Sunday and Monday as part of the first leg of an Asia trip, and the JCS chief will now head to Japan.
He met his Chinese counterpart, General Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army, on Tuesday.
The U.S. JCS chairman said on Wednesday that he had told Chinese military leaders that the U.S. wants to convince Kim Jong Un to agree to stop missile tests and denuclearize through diplomacy and sanctions.
“But we needed to seriously have a conversation about what might happen if there was military action,” he said at China’s Northern Theater Command’s Haicheng Camp in Shenyang.
“My message in Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo has been [that] the time to have some initial conversations about what a contingency on the Korean peninsula would look like is before the contingency occurs,” he said.
“It would also be helpful for us to have effective communications mechanisms in place, so in the event of a crisis, we can immediately speak to each other and avoid miscalculation and a deepening crisis.”
Dunford met South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday, during which he said that the U.S. needed military options should diplomacy and sanctions fail.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
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