Sir John Sawyers said a war between Donald Trump and Kim Jon-un was more likely than Russia
Sir John Sawyers said he thought it was "unlikely" that last week's US airstrikes on a Syrian airbase would lead to war between America and Russia, which has threatened retailiation if Donald Trump fires more missiles at the Syrian regime's bases.
But he said the increased US naval presence in the Korean peninsula, coupled with Mr Trump's recent demostration of military might infront of Chinese President Xi, was more of a concern.
Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, Sir John said: "If you're looking for a world crisis which could bring about the dangers of a clash between great powers, then North Korea is a bigger concern than Syria.
Countries that support and oppose the missile strikes in Syria
Mon, April 10, 2017
European countries have been broadly supportive so far as President Trump ordered missile strikes against a Syrian airfield from which a deadly chemical weapons attack was launched
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SYRIA OPPOSES: President Bashar al-Assad's office denounced the U.S. strike as 'reckless, irresponsible behavior.'
"The move by the Americans to strengthen their forces in the Korean Peninsula, the demonstration to President Xi in Florida that the US was willing to use force against another state to uphold international order, uphold international norms – I think this is all part of a calculation that North Korea has to be treated very seriously, a very high priority and ultimately it needs a joint US – Chinese approach to deal with this unless we are to avoid a further conflict on that peninsula.”
He added: “I think what the Chinese are beginning to understand is that if this can’t be solved peaceably through negotiations, through pressure, then there is serious risk that the US will have only one option left, which is the military option.”
Sir John admitted he was 'not a fan" of the US President but described his response to the Syrian regime's gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun on Friday as "quite measured, proportionate and quite limited in extent".
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Sir John Sawyers said Donald Trump "doesn't fill me with confidence"
He said: "Whilst the tensions around the world this week are higher, the enforcement of international norms are in the long term interests to rule out the use of chemical weapons in any circumstances."
**Sir John also welcomed what he described as "sensible grown-ups" appearing to take control of the Trump administration, sidelining ideological figures like White House strategist Steve Bannon.
**What we saw last week was some of the heavyweights, the serious minds in the US administration, H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor, Jim Mattis, the Defence Secretary, and now [Rex] Tillerson this week going to Moscow.
“We see the sensible grown-ups within the administration taking charge and the rather ideological figures around Trump himself being marginalised, and that’s to be welcomed.”
But asked by presenter John Humphries if he was "scared" of Donald Trump, Sir John replied: "He's not someone who fills me with confidence.
He [Trump] doesn’t have the background and the experience and the instincts of being an effective US president, but it is in our interests that we have a US administration that upholds the international system that supports its allies and supports international norms."
Donald Trump launched 59 tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase on Friday
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is said to have bolstered his country’s security defences in the wake of President's Trump's Syrian intervention. in fear of President Donald Trump's unpredictable military stance, it has been revealed.
The US President’s surprise attack against Assad’s regime last Friday has left the 33-year-old leader second guessing the Republican's military stance and has ordered a series of protections across the country.
A North Korean foreign military official told Pyongyang mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency: “Some forces are loud-mouthed that the recent US military attack on Syria is an action of warning us but we are not frightened by it.
"The North's tremendous military muscle with a nuclear force as its pivot can defeat them.
"We will bolster up in every way our capability for self-defence to cope with the US evermore reckless moves for a war and defend ourselves with our own force.”