After a year which saw the North Korean regime develop nuclear weapons that could reach the US mainland, as well as conduct its most powerful nuclear bomb test ever, war seemed an ever-likely prospect – but it appears to have had the opposite effect.
Speaking in London at an event hosted by British think tank Policy Exchange, Lieutenant General In-Bum Chun explained that Trump’s volatile nature has North Koreans fearing he could, at any point, reach for his nuclear button – which the President has already claimed is “much bigger and more powerful” than North Korea’s.
LG Chun said: “Right now, they’re a little off balance because of Mr Trump. They’re not going to risk it yet.
“For now, he’s put us in a direction where negotiations have started.”
However, he said the time in which the US and North Korean could still end the crisis diplomatically is fast running out.
He added: ”If they want to do a deal with the Americans, they need to do it now. They don’t seem to see that the window is closing.”
President Trump said on Wednesday the United States was willing to speak to North Korea “under the right circumstances,” although it was far from clear whether this would pay dividends.
South Korea said Trump had also said in a phone call with its President Moon Jae-in that there would be no military action while North-South talks were going on and that a Wall Street Journal article saying he was contemplating a military strike against North Korea was “completely wrong.”
“Who knows where it leads?” Trump told reporters at the White House after his call with Moon to discuss Tuesday’s North-South talks, the first since 2015.
Despite claiming war is less inevitable than previously thought, LG Chun still thinks South Korea should be ready.
He warned: ”I hope tensions will lessen & that the Olympics will be a good door to a peaceful resolution. That is what my heart wants but my head tells me we have a long way to go.
“We have to be ready – as a military man of 39 years, I know that if you want peace, you must prepare for war.”