Alistair Tancred — Mail Online and AFP Feb 2, 2018
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has said that the temptation to launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea ‘is strong and the argument rational’.
He told a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that North Korea poses the most immediate threat to global security, arguing that denuclearization of the regime must be a ‘fundamental’ American foreign policy goal.
The veteran diplomat was speaking before North Korea warned that the U.S. is pushing the whole world towards a ‘nuclear war’ in its latest letter submitted to the UN.
It said that joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea – coupled with American rhetoric in the Korean peninsula region – were bound to derail improving relationships between the two Koreas.
The Trump administration’s aims are ‘to provoke a nuclear war, which will undermine the improvement of inter-Korean relations and the easing of tensions,’ North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said in the letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Mr Kissinger said that relations between the U.S. and North Korea had reached ‘a fork in the road’ in which the Trump administration may consider pre-emptive military action or increasingly tighter sanctions against Kim Jong-un’s regime.
‘We will hit that fork in the road, and the temptation to deal with it with a pre-emptive attack is strong, and the argument is rational, but I have seen no public statement by any leading official,’ President Nixon’s secretary of State told members of the Committee.
Kissinger, who at 94 continues to advise on foreign policy matters, joined two other foreign policy heavyweights – former Secretary of State George Shultz, 97, and ex-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, 72 — in testifying to the Committee about global security challenges.
The elder statesmen presented a picture of mounting international threats, including nuclear proliferation, Chinese authoritarianism, and Russia’s interference in US elections and its interventions in Eastern Europe.
‘The most immediate challenge to international security is posed by the evolution of the North Korea nuclear program,’ Kissinger told the Senate Armed Services Committee, describing an ‘unprecedented’ scenario.
North Korea, like Iran, has advanced its nuclear capability at the very time an international effort sought to prevent a ‘radical regime’ from developing such capacity.
‘For the second time in a decade, an outcome that was widely considered unacceptable is now on the verge of becoming irreversible,’ he said.
Inability to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear efforts could prompt a new arms race in Asia, Kissinger said.
‘Denuclearization of North Korea must be a fundamental goal… and if it is not reached, we must prepare ourselves for a proliferation of nuclear weapons to other countries,’ he said.
South Korea will not accept being the only Korea without a nuclear capability, he said, with Japan following suit.
‘Then we’re living in a new world, in which technically competent countries with adequate command structures are possessing nuclear weapons in an area where there are considerable national disagreements.
‘This in would drive a rethinking of the entire U.S. nuclear deterrent posture’ Kissinger said, as the current strategy assumes only one potential nuclear threat.
The situation has the potential to evolve into a nuclear landscape the world has never seen, he warned.
He said he was against forcing a military confrontation, but at the same time was in favor of putting pressure on Pyongyang.
Kissinger – who played a dominant role in U.S. foreign policy in the late 1960s and 1970s. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in negotiating an end to American involvement in Vietnam.