Despite calls for negotiations with North Korea, military options remain on the table – Boris Johnson

Speaking at the Chatham House conference in London, British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson has called on North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un to give room for negotiations over his nuclear ambitions, warning that a nuclear pre-emptive strike remains a possibility, according to Sky News.

• South Korea and Rex Tillerson’s efforts

Mr Johnson said he backed a series of “commitments” made by South Korea and the US Secretary of State’s efforts to talk, revealing that the UK did not seek to bring about a regime change.

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has made series of attempts to negotiate with Pyongyang even at the disapproval of his boss to stop it’s reckless pursuit of long-range missiles and nuclear devices.

“These are the commitments that we hope will encourage Kim Jong Un to halt his nuclear development programme, to come to the negotiating table and thereby to take the only path that can guarantee the security of the region as a whole”, the Foreign Secretary said during the conference.

The four commitments according to Johnson were: no seeking regime change in North Korea, no seeking to force the collapse of the regime, no seeking to deploy US forces beyond the 38th parallel and no attempting to accelerate the reunification of the Korean peninsula.

• Military options and Iran similarities

Johnson said: “No one, in this room, in the UK or even around the world wants any kind of military solution to this problem. But Kim Jong Un 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 of the verge of acquiring the power to make good on his threat, I’m afraid that the US President, whoever he or she might be, will have an absolute duty to keep safe not only the American people but all those who have sheltered under the American nuclear umbrella.”

During the Q&A, Sky News’ Alistair Bunkall asked whether the Foreign Secretary could foresee any imminent circumstances which would require the UK to support a pre-emptive strike by the US – a question Johnson replied by saying: “It must remain on the table. There is a spectrum of things that could be done. It is the duty of any President of the United States, given the threat that his or her country could face, to at least explore those military options.”

He added: “In short, Pyongyang faces the same dilemma as Tehran. By continuing to develop nuclear weapons Kim risks provoking a reaction in the region that is at once defensive and competitive, that reduces not increases his security (and) the survival chances of his regime…Until he understands that, I feel we have no choice but to step up the pressure on Pyongyang.”

• The imperativeness of enforcing sanctions

Mr Johnson stressed that, amid the “urgent” need for China to “address” the problem of North Korea, there is “unprecedented discussion between China and the US on how to handle this crisis”.

“Whatever we think of the regime and its behaviour, the ruling elite in North Korea is in the end composed of human beings. 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”, he said.

• The UK’s Nuclear influence

Johnson equally stated the necessity of the UK’s nuclear arsenal, which harks back to Britain’s role in negotiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the late 1960s.

“To wield a nuclear deterrent as this country does, is neither easy nor cheap… We are one of the handful specifically recognised by the NPT to possess such dreadful weapons… and by holding that stockpile, we play our part in deterring the ambitions of rogue states”, he said.

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