Boris Johnson has backed Donald Trump’s approach to the North Korean crisis – and said the prospect of taking a ‘military option’ against Kim Jong-un remains on the table.
The foreign secretary said the president had an “absolute duty” to prepare “any option” in response to Kim Jong-un’s regime.
He said: “I don’t think anyone can conceivably want a military solution to this problem. And yet that possibility must theoretically be maintained on the table.
“It is the duty of the president to at least explore those military options and keep them on the table.”
But he said no one wants a military response to the crisis and said economic sanctions from China was the most likely way to apply pressure to Pyongyang.
Comparing the situation to the Cold War, Mr Johnson said: “The public can be forgiven for genuinely starting to wonder whether the nuclear sword of Damocles is once again held over the head of a trembling human race.”
In a speech to the Chatham House foreign affairs think tank, Mr Johnson said the Pyongyang regime’s nuclear ambitions would not make the country safer.
“No one wants any kind of military solution to the problem,” he said.
“But Kim and the world need to understand that when the 45th president of the United States contemplates 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 US 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.
“And I hope Kim will also consider this: that if his objective is to intimidate the US into wholesale withdrawal from East Asia, then it strikes me that his current course might almost be designed to produce the opposite effect.”
Mr Johnson’s intervention comes amid concern at what has been seen as inflammatory rhetoric being traded by Mr Trump and Mr Kim, who the president describes as “Rocket Man”.
It also comes after Mr Trump decertified the 2015 pact with Iran, complaining his predecessor Barack Obama was taken advantage of in negotiations, and last week repeated his threat to pull out of the landmark deal entirely.
Giving a speech at Chatham House’s conference in central London, the foreign secretary said the Iran deal proved crucial at a time when the country had been “only months away” from producing a nuclear weapon, which could have triggered an arms race in “one of the most volatile regions of the world”.
“Think of the nightmare that deal has avoided,” he said.
Mr Johnson said Mr Trump had not “junked” the deal and with “determination and courage” the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) deal could be preserved.
He acknowledged concerns about Iran’s support for Hezbollah, its supply of weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen and interference in Syria.
“But that does not mean for one minute that we should write Iran off, or that we should refuse to engage with Iran or that we should show disrespect to its people,” he said.
“On the contrary, we should continue to work to demonstrate to that population that they will be better off under this deal and the path of re-engagement that it prescribes.”
(Main picture: PA)