Military options against N. Korea carry too big a risk: ex-U.S. defense chief
WASHINGTON, March 20 (Yonhap) -- The United States has developed various military options against North Korea, but all of them carry too big a risk to put into action, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.
Talk of pre-emptive strikes against the North has come to the fore after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a visit to Seoul last week that all options were on the table in dealing with the communist nation and the military option was one of them.
"We obviously have lots of options. We've developed a number of plans to deal with threats from North Korea. But the reality is that every one of those options does not provide, you know, what I would call acceptable risk at this point," Panetta said on MSNBC Sunday.
"So I think we need to have a good defense. We need to develop those options. But we need to use them frankly to push both China and North Korea to negotiations. I think ultimately that's the only way we're going to resolve this issue," he said.
Tillerson said the two decades of diplomatic efforts failed to disarm the North, and there was no point in pursuing the diplomatic path any longer. He also declared an end to former President Barack Obama's North Korea policy, known as "strategic patience," which centers on waiting for Pyongyang to show good faith while increasing sanctions and pressure on the regime.
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (EPA-Yonhap file photo)