Keane told Fox News that, if the US was facing an imminent attack from a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), President Donald Trump would have to act preemptively.
“We’re rapidly and dangerously heading towards the reality that the military option is the only one left when it comes to getting North Korea to denuclearize and not weaponized [intercontinental ballistic missiles],” Keane told Fox News.
“The Trump administration cannot accept a nuclear launch,” he said. “We cannot rely on our missile-defense system to defeat it and expose the American people to a nuclear attack.”
On Thursday, Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. Keane, who was Trump’s first pick for secretary of defense, said that the president is likely going to “try the diplomatic option to reverse North Korea’s nuclear program.”
“As for the military option, we’re moving there because Beijing, you’ve painted us into a corner. Let’s work together and denuclearize North Korea. I don’t know if they’re going to do that. But we’ll see,” Keane said.
While Keane said that former President Barack Obama never fully removed the military option, the Trump administration has been more aggressive toward North Korea.
North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been “playing” the United States for years. China has done little to help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2017
In an interview with the Financial Times, Trump said that the US would be “totally” willing to “solve” the nuclear threat from North Korea with or without China’s help.
“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump told the Financial Times in an interview. “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also said that “the clock has now run out and all options are on the table” , according to CNN.
Tillerson issued a short statement Tuesday after North Korea’s recent missile test, saying: “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”
Secretary Tillerson: The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment. https://t.co/ccVPjWTWdX
— Department of State (@StateDept) April 5, 2017
On Wednesday, Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about North Korea’s recent missile test, and they both “agreed to stay in close communication to enhance cooperation on North Korea,” according to The Hill.
Keane says that Kim Jong-un’s rhetoric is particularly dangerous since he is the only leader that publicly states his intentions to nuke the US.
“There’s not another world leader who says he intends to use nukes against the US…We have to take this threat very seriously,” Keane said.
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