The top U.S. military officer is urging Chinese officials to pressure North Korea, warning that the United States is prepared to take military action if diplomatic and economic means do not work.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford met with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Fang Fenghui, on Tuesday in Beijing, where the two signed an agreement on improving communication between the American and Chinese militaries. But the two also discussed the tensions on the Korean peninsula.
“In the interest of regional stability, he said the U.S. views with growing urgency the need for China to increase pressure on the North Korean regime,” spokesman Capt. Darryn James said in a statement Wednesday about the meeting.
“Should preferred diplomatic and economic peaceful options fail, Gen. Dunford reiterated America’s resolve to use the full range of military capabilities to defend our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan, as well as the U.S. homeland,” James added.
Dunford is on the second day of his trip to China after visiting South Korea.
On Wednesday, Dunford traveled to Shenyang to watch a Chinese military demonstration, becoming the most senior U.S. official to visit Shenyang to date.
After watching the demonstration, Dunford told reporters that the United States believes China fully enforcing newly passed United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang would help to eventually denuclearize North Korea.
“We believe that if China enforces those sanctions — if the international community enforces those sanctions — that can set the conditions to move forward toward denuclearization,” he said, as quoted by the Pentagon’s news service. “It’s an important step.”
But, Dunford said, the United States needs to be prepared in the event economic and diplomatic measures do not work. He said he told the Chinese that the United States is developing military options in such an event.
“We needed to seriously have a conversation about what might happen if there was military action,” he said.
The framework for the communications agreement signed Tuesday will be set up during a meeting in Washington in November.
Dunford told his counterpart that the communications line “will only be useful if it results in reducing the risk of miscalculation,” according to James’s statement.
The communications line, he added, “is especially critical now due to growing North Korean provocations.”
Tensions between the United States and North Korea reached a fever pitch last week, with President Trump warning that the country would face “fire and fury” if they continued threatening the U.S. and allies. North Korea then threatened to fire missiles toward the territory of Guam.
But tensions eased after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday said he would hold off on the missile launch. President Trump on Wednesday called Kim’s decision “wise.”
Source: The Hill