High-ranking officials told President Donald Trump this week that possible options to respond to North Korea’s nuclear program include assassinating Kim Jong-un and putting nukes back in South Korea, NBC News reported.
Military and intelligence officials told the network that the ideas were given to Trump by the National Security Council in advance of the his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week in Florida.
The moves would potentially be considered if China does not help influence North Korea by using additional sanctions and diplomatic actions.
Following the two-day meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Xi agreed that North Korea’s nuclear moves are at a “very serious stage” and relayed the leader said that China would increase its cooperation efforts to rein in the nation. However, Tillerson did not give specifics, Reuters reported.
Returning nuclear weapons to South Korea, which were removed 25 years ago, would be the first nuclear deployment since the Cold War ended.
One official who was part of the NSC review said he doesn’t think deploying nukes to South Korea amid the “war today” state the U.S. currently faces with North Korea “buys more for us than it costs.”
Retired Adm. James Stavridis told the NBC News such a move would “only inflame the view from Pyongyang. … I don’t see any upside to it because the idea that we would use a nuclear weapon even against North Korea is highly unlikely.”
While sources old the network that Air Force officials aren’t in support of the possible move, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert said “well over 50 percent” of Koreans do.
Though an assassination attempt on North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un sounds like an alternate scene from Seth Rogen and James Franco’s notorious 2014 film, “The Interview,” in which the two play journalists given the task after securing an interview with him, it is a “tempting strategy when you’re faced with a highly unpredictable and highly dangerous leader,” Stavridis said.
“The question you have to ask yourself is what happens the day after?” he said. “I think that in North Korea, it’s an enormous unknown.”
Other potential measures could include infiltrating the nation with U.S. and South Korea forces to destroy key structures like bridges to prevent the transportation of mobile missiles.