The U.S. military’s top officer said Thursday that a military solution to the missile threat from North Korea would be “horrific,” but allowing the reclusive nation to develop the capability to launch a nuclear attack on the United States is “unimaginable.”
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Beijing that President Trump has “told us to develop credible viable military options and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that there would be no second war on the Korean Peninsula and that the U.S. military had agreed to not take any military action without South Korea’s consent.
Dunford was responding to questions about comments by Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon in an interview with The American Prospect published Wednesday that there is no military solution to the threat from North Korea.
China’s defense ministry said in a statement that Gen. Fan Changlong, the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, told Dunford in a meeting Thursday that all sides should remain restrained and avoid words and actions that could escalate tensions.
Fan said Beijing insists that “negotiations are the only effective option,” the statement said.President Trump tweeted Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a "wise and well reasoned decision," after backing off from a plan to fire four ballistic missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam. Trump had previously threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if it made further threats to the U.S.
North Korean state media reported earlier this week that Kim will watch "the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" before deciding whether to approve plans to launch the missiles.
Moon said Thursday he would consider sending a special envoy to North Korea for talks if the North stops its missile and nuclear tests.
“The people worked together to rebuild the country from the Korean War, and we cannot lose everything again because of a war,” Moon said.
“I can confidently say there will not be a war again on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.
“The United States and President Trump have already promised to sufficiently consult with South Korea and get our approval for whatever option they will take against North Korea. It’s a firm agreement between South Korea and the United States."
On Tuesday, North and South Korea celebrated Liberation Day, marking the anniversary of the victory over Japan in World War II and the creation of the two independent Korean governments in 1948.
The U.S. and South Korea are scheduled to conduct military exercises on Aug. 21, raising the possiility that tensions could rise again.