Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday the world should brace itself for all possibilities, including military options, in a bid to discourage North Korea from its pursuit of nuclear and missile programs.
"We must be ready to confront any consequences and any eventualities, including military options. to address this. Otherwise North Korea would be emboldened," he said in a keynote speech for the opening of the 10th Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference in Seoul.
It was quite unusual for the retired UN leader to talk publicly about potential military options against Pyongyang, although senior Donald Trump administration officials have stated that all options are on the table.
Participants in the 10th Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference pose for a photo at the opening of the meeting at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Seoul on Sept. 18, 2017. (Yonhap)
"Nobody wants war. Nobody wants a war," Ban added. "Military is not existing just for a war. Military exists for the peace. But when chips are down, unfortunately, we have to take all necessary measures."
He urged the North to become a responsible member of the international community by giving up its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.
"No single nation has survived on its course against the unanimously united international community in the course of world history," he pointed out.
In a separate speech at the outset of the PACC event, the top US Army officer Gen. Mark A. Milley also emphasized that it's important for the member states to stand shoulder to shoulder against "what arguably is the number one non-traditional threat facing the international community today."
"It's absolutely critical that we all, every one of our countries, does everything humanly possible in the month ahead to avert a conflict and to convince North Korea that their path of seeking nuclear weapons is the wrong path," the US Army chief of staff said as he co-hosted the biennial meeting with his South Korean counterpart Gen. Kim Yong-woo.
Gen. Kim Yong-woo (L), South Korean Army chief of staff, shakes hands with his US counterpart Gen. Mark A. Milley at a meeting in Seoul on Sept. 18, 2017. (Yonhap)
He noted that the gathering in Seoul, only 43 kilometers away from the inter-Korean border, comes not long after the North's latest nuclear test and ballistic missile launch.
It has brought together army chiefs of staff and senior commanders from 29 Indo-Asia-Pacific countries under the theme of "Unity of Effort: Building Civil-Military Partnerships in Land Force Response to Non-Traditional Security Threats."
Kim agreed that it's meaningful for global military leaders to share their view on North Korea here at a time when political leaders plan to gather at the UN in New York.
"I think it will send a stern message to North Korea," he said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in was absent from the Seoul meeting, as he's heading to New York for the UN session.
He instead delivered a video message.
"North Korea should realize that dialogue and cooperation, not nukes and missiles, are the only means to protect its security and guarantee a bright future," the president said.
He added, South Korea will seek "powerful punishment," based on international cooperation, against the North for its provocative acts and continued development of the weapons.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (Yonhap)
"By doing so, we will make North Korea have no other choice but to give up its nuclear weapons and missiles," Moon said.
China has dispatched Lt. Gen. You Haitao, deputy commander of the nation's army, to the forum scheduled to run through Thursday.
It marks the first visit by a high-level Chinese military official since South Korea and the US agreed to deploy the advanced THAAD missile defense system on the peninsula last year.
In a closed-door plenary session, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the US Forces Korea, had discussions on ways to deal with North Korea, along with Choi Young-jin, South Korea's former ambassador to the US; Shin Beom-chul, professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy; and Michael O'Hanlon, a senior research fellow at the Brookings Institution.
The PACC was launched in 1999 to promote ties among leading army officers in the region on major security issues.
South Korea also hosts the Pacific Armies Management Seminar at the same venue during the period. PAMS is an annual seminar for three- to four-star generals or equivalent that started in 1978. (Yonhap)