Facebook Twitter Comments Slate Plus

Former Joint Chiefs Head: Never Been Closer to “Nuclear War With North Korea”

Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  testifies during a House Oversight Committee hearing entitled 'Reviews of the Benghazi Attack and Unanswered Questions,' in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 19, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, September 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, who was head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, laid out a stark warning on Sunday, saying that the United States has never been closer to a nuclear war with North Korea. “We’re actually closer in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been,” Mullen said on ABC News’ This Week. “I don’t see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point.”

Mullen said that the current dynamic with North Korea is an example of how President Donald Trump’s leadership has been “incredibly disruptive,” bringing about an era of unpredictability that the country’s adversaries are able to use to their advantage. “Those who have been our friends for many years ask questions about our commitments to them,” he said, “and our enemies, those that would do us ill, seem to be able to take advantage of the uncertainty.”

The former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did praise Trump for being able to make “China move more than they have in the past” with regards to North Korea. “Whether they continue to do that to help resolve this is the open question,” he said. “A real measure of how this all comes out is whether China is going to commit to a peaceful resolution here.” But North Korea isn’t the only concern, Mullen warned, noting that there could soon be a nuclear threat from Iran if Trump ends the Iran nuclear agreement.

North Korea made clear over the weekend it will continue down the nuclear road in 2018, according to a report by state-run news agency KCNA. “Do not expect any change in its policy,” notes the report.

We Need to Talk About Your Ad Blocker

Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker.

Enable Ads on Slate

Want to Block Ads But Still Support Slate?

By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. And you'll never see this message again.

Join Slate Plus
Illustration depicting a colorful group of people using an array of mobile devices