Published: Tue, August 15, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Top US Military Officer Hopes For Peaceful Resolution With North Korea

Top US Military Officer Hopes For Peaceful Resolution With North Korea

Gen. Joseph Dunford said the prepared to use its "full range" of military capabilities if necessary, the Associated Press reported.

Dunford, who is also visiting Japan and China during his trip, earlier told reporters traveling with him that he is aiming to "sense what the temperature is in the region".

Tensions between North Korea and the United States surged last week after the isolated country said it would finalize a plan by mid-August to launch four intermediate range missiles toward waters off the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

Senior U.S. national security officials say a military confrontation with North Korea's isn't imminent.

Since then the North and Trump have locked horns in fiery exchanges, with Trump saying on Friday that U.S. troops were "locked and loaded" in case a military solution became necessary.

He said the United States was "locked and loaded" after the North threatened to target the USA territory of Guam with missile tests.

The chairman of Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, the deputy commander of South Korean-U.S.

The launches demonstrated a major advance in the North's efforts to develop a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the USA mainland.

"What matters is that if a second conflict (on the peninsula) erupts, that can not help but lead to a nuclear war", the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a commentary.

Dunford downplayed any talk of preemptive action against North Korea, saying that the current defense posture was defensive in nature until ordered otherwise by the president.

Tensions have heightened amid exchanges of incendiary words between Washington and Pyongyang as the North vowed to retaliate against the latest United Nations sanctions on it spearheaded by the U.S. "It would be a frightful thing were a war to be conducted here on the peninsula, and that's why we're so focused on coming up with a peaceful way ahead", he said.

The North on Monday said any war could "only be turned into a nuclear war".

"The problem is that Kim Jong Un is nothing like his father", said Nam Seong-wook, professor of North Korea Studies at Korea University in Seoul.

But this year the drills are being preceded by a number of threats and developments unique to 2017, including North Korea testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the continental US.

Seoul, a vibrant metropolitan area of some 25 million people, lies within range of North Korea's conventional artillery stationed just 30 miles to the North. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, including more than 28,000 US troops, also live in South Korea.

Gen Dunford said as he arrived in Seoul: "As a military leader, I have to make sure that the president does have viable military options in the event that the diplomatic and economic pressurisation campaign fails". "Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" he wrote.

It also came just a week before the US and South Korean militaries are due to start their annual fall exercises, where they practice responding to an invasion by or the collapse of North Korea.

"The government has not considered adjusting the size of the military drill".

On Sunday, US National Security Adviser HR McMaster said he did not think the sides were closer to war than a week ago, while CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he saw no intelligence to suggest the sides were on the cusp of a nuclear war.

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