NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that military action against North Korea could trigger “devastating consequences” amid US President Donald Trump’s war threats.
“The use of military force will have devastating consequences, I think nobody really wants that, therefore we need to continue to push for a negotiated solution,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Friday.
The NATO chief urged a diplomatic solution to the Korean Peninsula crisis.
“The US has the right to defend itself, to defend its allies, but at same time I am absolutely certain no one wants a military solution, so we still see a united effort to try to step up the pressure against North Korea,” he added.
His remarks came before his visit to South Korea and Japan, which he will make in the coming weeks as a show of support.
The US and South Korea are set to hold naval drills on October 16-26 in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, despite international calls for the de-escalation of tensions with North Korea.
Earlier this week, the US flew two supersonic heavy bombers over the Korean Peninsula, staging the first night-time joint aviation exercises with Japan and South Korea, the latest in a series of flyovers.
Stoltenberg, however, emphasized that NATO was “not planning any military presence in that part of the world” and no such request had been received from Tokyo or Seoul.
The United States and North Korea have been at loggerheads over Pyongyang’s weapons and nuclear programs and Washington’s military posture against the North.
Pyongyang says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward the country and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea. Thousands of US soldiers are stationed in South Korea and Japan.
Tensions have recently significantly risen between North Korea and the US. The two countries have been trading threats of military action against one another, and there is a potential for a real armed conflict to erupt.
On Tuesday, Trump discussed “a range of options” with his national security team to respond to North Korea’s recent missile and nuclear tests.
The meeting came after Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric against North Korean officials last weekend, claiming that a diplomatic approach over the past 25 years “hasn’t worked” and that Pyongyang has made “fools of US negotiators.”
In a speech to the UN General Assembly last month, Trump warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that the United States, if threatened, would “totally destroy” his country of 26 million people.
In response, Kim said Trump will “pay dearly” for threatening to destroy North Korea.
He added that Trump is “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire,” who is “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.”