The British military has quietly been drawing up plans to handle a potential conflict with North Korea, as the Communist regime ratcheted up the threat of war with missile tests and heightened anti-U.S. rhetoric in recent months and weeks.
The Ministry of Defence has officially not commented on plans for a military response, but sources have revealed that officials have been instructed to draw up plans, according to the Daily Mail.
The contingency plans include bringing the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth into service over two years ahead of schedule, cutting short tests so that it can join U.S. warships in the region.
The 65,000-ton carrier has a 700-strong crew and would be accompanied by various other ships and aircraft.
“We have plenty of ships to send… the Type-45 destroyers, the Type-23 frigates. Britain’s new aircraft carrier could be pressed into service early if things turn south,” a senior Whitehall source told the Mail.
Prime Minister Theresa May has previously refused to rule out British involvement in a potential conflict when she visited Japan on Aug. 30, after tensions had already been escalated by North Korean missile tests in the region. The Prime Minister also refused to rule out the possibility of Britain engaging in cyber-warfare against the regime.
North Korea has picked out the United Kingdom as a potential U.S. ally as it has cranked up the ant-U.S. rhetoric in recent months.
“We solemnly warn not only the US and [the] puppet group but also satellites, including [the] UK and Australia, which are taking advantage of the present war manoeuvres against the North, that they would face a miserable end if they join in” the exercises, state media KCNA reported on Aug. 25.
A report by the Royal United Services Institute published on Sept. 29 said that Britain must prepare for the possibility that war could break out between the United States and North Korea.
“This report is not saying that war is likely. But the probability of war is an uncomfortably real prospect,” Professor Malcolm Chalmers, who authored the report, told the Telegraph.
The Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon has already warned that Britain was potentially at risk from North Korea’s long-range missile programme.
Sir Michael told the BBC, “The US is fully entitled to defend its own territory, to defend its bases and to look after its people, but this involves us, London is closer to North Korea and its missiles than Los Angeles.”
Speaking on Sept. 10, he warned that although North Korean missiles could not hit the U.K. yet, it could only be a matter of time.
“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,” he said.
If the HMS Queen Elizabeth is drafted into action, it wouldn’t be the first time that a ship has been called into service early.
“In the Falklands we had to react to an event and HMS Illustrious was accelerated to respond,” a Navy source said, according to the Mail. “This was a reaction to protect British territory, however. In this case [North Korea], the UK would be part of a united global coalition. We would see what support we could give.”