Sullivan Questions Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on North Korea

Kissinger Shares First Public Statement on “War with Korea”


WASHINGTON, DC – During yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Armed Service Committee, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) questioned former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger on the immediate threat and near-term challenges from a war with North Korea and likely impact on the proliferation of nuclear weapons. According to Dr. Kissinger, it was his first time speaking publicly on the issue.

 Sullivan Questions Former Secretary of State

Senator Sullivan Questioning Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on North Korea (click image or here to watch).


At the hearing, Senator Sullivan – who has consistently expressed his support for an AUMF from Congress ahead of a pre-emptive ground war on the Korean Peninsula – said that the Trump administration has put out a “red line” against North Korea getting a nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. As a result, Senator Sullivan said, “The [coming] fork in the road is either some kind of preemptive military option to prevent that capability with all its inherent risks, or an increasingly tight sanctions regime, perhaps with a naval blockade that would address clamping down on North Korea even more, with China’s help hopefully and addressing the issue of proliferation… can you give us your sense on that fork in the road? Is that a false choice? How would you be thinking about that issue?”

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

Former Secretary of State Speaking on North Korea (click image or here to watch)

 “We will hit that fork in the road,” Dr. Kissinger replied, “and the temptation to deal with it with a preemptive attack is strong, and the argument is rational. But in any event…I would be very concerned by a unilateral American war at the borders of China and Russia in which we are not supported by a significant part of the world, or at least of the Asian world.”

Kissinger then elaborated on the repercussions of letting Kim Jong Un retain his nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  “We better get used to the fact that…South Korea will not accept being the only Korea that has no nuclear weapon, that relates to similar trends in Japan, and then we're living in a new world in which technically competent countries with adequate command structures are possessing nuclear weapons in an area in which there are considerable national disagreements. That is a new world that will require new thinking [about] our whole deterrent posture…”

Kissinger concluded by saying, “I support the administration's objective…but when we get to your question, we have to do some prayerful thinking. To fight a war at the border of China and Russia without some agreement with them, alone, that is a big decision.  And, I’m telling you my doubt in my thinking in a policy I agree with bringing pressure on North Korea, and I agree with the statements the administration has made up to now. But, and I have not stated this publicly before -- but if you ask me directly, what do I think of a war with Korea, this is what I think.”

Kissinger testified on global challenges and U.S. national security strategy alongside fellow foreign policy titans George Shultz, who was President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, and Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state for President George W. Bush.