A pre-emptive U.S. military strike on North Korea would trigger an automatic retaliation, according to a high-ranking defector from the totalitarian regime.
Thae Yong Ho, the former deputy chief of mission at the North Korean Embassy in London, warned that Kim Jong-un would unleash artillery and short-range missile fire on South Korea after any attack on the North.
The warning comes after Donald Trump said he would consider using the military force to stop Jong-un developing a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States.
He told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington: “North Korean officers are trained to press their button without any further instructions from the general command if anything happens on their side.
“We have to remember that tens of millions of South Korean population are living 70 to 80 kilometres away from this military demarcation line.”
Thae urged the Trump administration to instead use sanctions and called on China to allow defectors in without fear of being sent back, causing a collapse of the North Korean regime.
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President Trump is set to fly to Asia on Friday – a trip that will see him visit both China and South Korea.
However, he will not visit the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea known as the Demilitarised Zone during the trip.
Trump previously threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself or its allies.