American president, Donald Trump has said he would rather go to war to destroy North Korea than allow it to develop a long-range nuclear-armed missile.
Influential Republican and foreign policy expert Lindsey Graham told NBC’s Today Show the President had told him so himself and warned patience with the rogue state was running thin.
“There is a military option: To destroy North Korea’s program and North Korea itself,” he said.
Just this week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un boasted that his country could now strike any target in the United States after carrying out its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test
World powers have been trying to stifle Pyongyang’s weapons program through United Nations-backed sanctions, but have failed to daunt the regime and Washington is growing frustrated.
Mr Graham said that if diplomacy, and in particular pressure from the North’s neighbour China, fails to halt the program then the United States will have no choice but to take devastating military action.
“They’ve kicked the can down the road for 20 years. There will be a war with North Korea over the missile program if they continue to try to hit America with an ICBM,” he said, describing his discussions with Mr Trump.
“He’s told me that. I believe him. If I were China, I would believe him, too, and do something about it. You can stop North Korea, militarily or diplomatically.
“I prefer the diplomatic approach. But they will not be allowed to have a missile to hit America with a nuclear weapon on top.”
It come as Mr Trump told reporters at his second full Cabinet meeting that he would handle North Korea.
“We will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything,” Mr Trump said.
The tough war of words is in stark comparison to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who said the US doesn’t want to topple the North Korean government.
“We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel,” Mr Tillerson told reporters at the State Department.
“We are not your enemy ... but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond.
“And we hope that at some point they will begin to understand that and we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them.”