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The UK could be at risk from North Korea’s fast-developing missile programme, the government’s defence secretary has warned.
Michael Fallon said the secretive state’s nuclear weapons programme must be stopped before leader Kim Jong-un has a ballistic missile capable of striking London.
Speaking on Andrew Marr’s Sunday show, Mr Fallon said the dangers of a miscalculation triggering war were “extremely great”, adding conflict must be avoided “at all costs”.
Sir Michael, speaking on the BBC One morning programme, said: “What we have to avoid at all costs is this spilling over in to any kind of military conflict.
“So we’re working flat out at the United Nations to get a better resolution there to enforce the existing sanctions, we’re looking at sanctions across the European Union, and of course we’re trying to persuade China to keep its neighbour in check.”
Asked if the situation is close to war in the Pacific, following threats against Guam, Sir Michael replied: “I’m very concerned about the situation in the Pacific. The United States is fully entitled to defend its own territory, to defend its bases and look after its people.
“But this involves us. London is closer to North Korea and its missiles than Los Angeles.”
Questioned on whether North Korea has a ballistic missile capable of hitting London, Sir Michael replied: “Not yet, but they are clearly accelerating their missile programme.
“The range is getting longer and longer and we have to get this programme halted because the dangers now of miscalculation, of some accident triggering a response, are extremely great.
“So we’ve got to work at this problem and bring about a diplomatic solution that stops the development of North Korea’s nuclear programme and enforces the sanctions we have at the moment.”
The interview comes just days after Pyongyang claimed to have exploded a hydrogen bomb capable of being delivered on an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The United States is now seeking a vote on a United Nations resolution which would impose the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea.
Sir Michael, on potential Nato involvement to defend its allies, said: “Guam is part of the United States, it’s United States sovereign territory and the United States, of course, under the United Nations, has the right to ask other members of the United Nations to join in its self-defence.
“So I don’t think a legal issue is nearly as important as getting now a diplomatic solution to this crisis.”
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier refused to say whether an attack on the US territory of Guam would be covered by Article five, in which an attack on one member of the alliance is considered an attack on all.
He told the same programme: “I will not speculate about whether Article five will be applied in such a situation.
“What I will say is we are now totally focused on how can we contribute to a peaceful solution of the conflict and press North Korea to stop its nuclear missile programmes.
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