America’s top general stressed Monday that military options are on the table when it comes to North Korea, but the application of force will only be considered if sanctions and diplomacy fail, according to South Korea.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford revealed America’s strategic intentions regarding North Korea in an hour-long meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, according to the office of the South Korea, Reuters reports.
Last week, tensions rose to new heights as North Korea threatened to engage in more aggressive weapons testing and President Donald Trump warned that North Korean threats will be met with “fire and fury like nothing the world has seen before.” The heated exchange led to concerns that the U.S. and North Korea were moving towards nuclear war, especially when Trump warned that the U.S. armed forces are “locked and loaded” for a potential conflict.
Dunford’s comments appear to be intended to reassure America’s South Korean allies that the U.S. is not unilaterally moving towards war with North Korea. Moon told the U.S. Monday that there cannot be another war on the Korean Peninsula.
The administration has been downplaying that threat, warning that war is not imminent but stressing that the U.S. is committed to the defense of its allies and the homeland and will use force against North Korea if diplomacy fails to produce the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“While diplomacy is our preferred means of changing North Korea’s course of action, it is backed by military options,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
“I have heard folks talking about being on the cusp of a nuclear war,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” explaining that there is currently “no intelligence that would indicate that we are in that place today.”
“But, make no mistake about it, the continuation, the increased chance that there will be a nuclear missile in Denver is a very serious threat,” he added, commenting that he is “quite confident” North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un will continue to advance his weapons programs.
Dunford’s latest comments to South Korea reflect statements at a recent conference.
“We should give Secretary Tillerson full support in attempting to resolve this diplomatically and economically even as we recognize that it may not happen, and there may have to be a follow-up option, which is the military option,” Dunford said in July.
The president’s tough talk on North Korea is simply sending a message that there will be consequences if North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un fails to choose a different path.
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