Fmr. Joint Chiefs Chair Mike Mullen: If Talks With North Korea Fail, Greater Chance of Military Conflict

May 13, 2018

Retired Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on "Fox News Sunday" that if the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fails to produce positive results, the chances of military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea will greatly increase.

Host Chris Wallace asked Mullen whether the United States would be worse off if the summit fails than it would have been if there was no meeting.

"Are you saying that if there is no deal that we could be worse off than if there had been no summit in the first place?" Wallace asked.

"I think what I'm saying is if the talks fail that the likelihood of options are dramatically reduced to potential conflict, Mullen said. "I do worry about the downside of conflict breaking out where tens and hundreds of thousands of people, particularly in South Korea, could die very quickly, and Kim has a huge arsenal to include nuclear, chemical, biological weapons. The outbreak there could be huge."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this past week visited North Korea for the second time and secured the release of three American prisoners. During his visit, Pompeo finalized the details for the upcoming summit between Trump and Kim.

Trump announced Thursday that his meeting with Kim will take place in Singapore on June 12, saying they would try to make it a "very special moment for world peace."

Wallace asked Mullen what he would advise Trump to do if the summit fails.

"You have said, you were on the record as saying that you do not believe in the feasibility, the utility of trying to contain North Korea, that we can't live with North Korea as an active nuclear threat, so if this agreement [falls] apart, what would you have President Trump do?" Wallace asked.

"I really want this agreement. I want the result to be denuclearization complete, exactly what the president is seeking, and also have not any outbreak of war," Mullen said. "That's a pretty thin lane to get into, particularly if the talks break down. I also think we need to put as much pressure on China to ensure that combat, there is no combat outbreak, and certainly include our allies in Japan as well as the South Koreans in generating this kind of outcome."

Mullen added that if military conflict breaks out, Kim could use his nuclear weapons.

"What I'm most concerned about is if this doesn't result in a positive outcome, the potential for, I think, military conflict goes off and therefore if you get into whether or not he would use the nuclear weapons," Mullen said.