Military response to North Korea ‘worst possible option’, says UK diplomat | World news

The UK diplomat who negotiated the Iran nuclear deal has said a military response to North Korea is “the worst possible option”, and would lead to chilling and unimaginable consequences, including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Sir Simon Gass, the Foreign Office political director until last year, was speaking at the launch of a paper by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British thinktank, that said war with North Korea was now a real possibility.

He also said North Korea has obtained a nuclear capability, adding: “The toothpaste is out of the tube.”

Gass said all the options in North Korea were now “extremely ugly”, but that at some point there would have to be a return to talks, facilitated by China. He said that the process “cannot be helped by name-calling and exchanges of ritual insults by the main two parties to the debate”.

In a further withering reference to Donald Trump, he said there was a particular difficulty with the US administration in predicting North Korea’s intentions. Gass said: “I have no doubt there is a massive US intelligence community that is specialising in North Korea and knows a huge amount about the country.

“What I have seen with Iran is that you sometimes get political leaders who because they have had very little contact with a country – and sometimes none – have formed a very clear and very erroneous two-dimensional understanding of what motivates the other side. So when their very intelligence community comes to them to explain some of the complexities, they are, if they are not careful, written off as apologists.”

He said it took an astute political leader to accept such advice, and not to be “over-influenced by a trope about what the other side is or thinks”.

The RUSI paper said a preventive war waged by Trump would be likely to escalate very quickly. In an assessment of the crisis sparked by Pyongyang’s…

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