British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has backed the U.S. need to hold a “military option” in reserve for dealing with the ongoing crisis on the Korean Peninsula, warning Monday that it is an undesirable option but remains a “duty” for U.S. President Donald Trump to explore military solutions in case negotiations with North Korea fail.
"I don't think anybody could conceivably want a military solution to this problem," Johnson said at a speech in London. "And yet clearly... the possibility of some kind of military option... that possibility must at least theoretically be maintained on the table."
The foreign secretary added that nobody in “the U.K. or even around the world wants any kind of military solution" to the crisis.
The comments come a day after Trump warned that the U.S. is “totally prepared” to confront the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as North Korea is officially called, over its continued development of nuclear arms and long-range missiles capable of potentially striking targets on the U.S. mainland.
"We're so prepared like you wouldn't believe," Trump pontificated on a Fox Business Network aired Sunday.
"You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be," the former reality television host continued. "Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows, who knows."
During his London speech, the U.K. top diplomat further noted that everyone, including Kim, should know that Trump is driven by the U.S. national interest to prepare for conflict with a "regime led by a man who not only threatens to reduce New York to ashes but who stands on the verge of acquiring the power to make good on his threat."
"I am afraid that the U.S. President – whoever he or she might be – will have an absolute duty to prepare any option to keep safe not only the American people but all those who have sheltered under the American nuclear umbrella."
However, Trump's casual manner in dealing with the crisis has alarmed U.S. friends and foes alike as he has steadily ratcheted up his belligerent rhetoric in dealing with Pyongyang, threatening “fire and fury” while derisively calling the DPRK's leader Kim Jong Un the "Little Rocket Man."
On Monday, state-run North Korean newspaper The Pyongyang Times issued a sharply-worded salvo at Washington that described Trump as a “lunatic” who is “running headlong into ruin, taking America with him, and the poor puppet forces are following him, at the peril of their lives,” referring to Japan and South Korea.
“Such rubbish as ‘fire and fury’, ‘total destruction’, ‘annihilation’ and ‘calm before storm’ are heard from Trump every day and the US is keen on recklessly playing with fire by introducing nuclear bomber formation, nuclear carrier strike groups, nuclear submarines and Aegis into the sky and waters of the Korean Peninsula in succession,” the article said.
“Dignitaries of White House, and State and Defense Departments of the U.S. are having a hard time cooling Trump, who is overheated with a war fever,” the piece added.
While U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has attempted to pursue talks with Pyongyang to stop it carrying out tests of long-range missiles and nuclear arms, Trump has tweeted that the “wonderful secretary of state” shouldn't “waste his time.”
Earlier in his speech, Johnson drew a sharp contrast with the U.S. leader by suggesting the need for dialogue, hailing the success of the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran.
"Whatever we think of the regime and its behavior, the ruling elite in North Korea is in the end composed of human beings,” the foreign secretary said. “We must find ways of getting through to them but at the same time, not just toughening the sanctions regime, enforcing those in place.”
"It won't be easy, but the costs of failure could be catastrophic."
Pyongyang has signaled that it refuses to hold talks until the White House drops its hostile stance and threats of potential nuclear attack, as DPRK Deputy UN Ambassador Kim In Ryong told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in August, according to a statement released by the North.
“As long as the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat continue, the DPRK ... will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiation table or flinch an inch from the road chosen by itself, the road of bolstering up the state nuclear force.”