Admiral Mike Mullen’s terrifying warning comes as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang continue to increase.
This week Kim Jong-Un’s state media warned the rogue regime would never hand over nuclear weapons while the USA continues its “blackmail and war drills”.
And now Adm Mullen claimed the conflict may have gone beyond diplomacy as he warned the world is the closest to nuclear war it has ever been.
He told ABC: “We’re actually closer in my view to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we’ve ever been.
“I don’t see the opportunities how to solve this diplomatically at this particular point.”
The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff previously warned the United States’ increasingly volatile relationship with the unpredictable hermit nation increased the likelihood dictator Kim Jong-un would use nuclear weapons.
He said: “I think it’s more probable than it used to be, and it scares me to death quite frankly.
“They’re the most dangerous weapons in the world.
“And, certainly if we have someone in North Korea that has a lethal legacy, is very, very unpredictable and sees this as a way to solidify his future, that he could well not just obtain them, but potentially use them.”
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously earlier this month to impose new sanctions on North Korea, in the hope of strangling the country’s deteriorating economy.
Pyongyang swiftly responded to the vote, which came after Kim Jong-Un’s most recent missile test, calling the move an “act of war” that violates peace and stability in the region.
The US has conducted many military exercises with South Korea and Japan throughout 2017, in an attempt to prepare against a military strike by the hands of North Korea.
Kim Jong-un’s state media mouthpiece KCNA announced North Korea will continue to enhance its nuclear capabilities next year in a report titled “No Force Can Prevail over Independence and Justice”.
The chilling report said: ”The DPRK, an undeniable new strategic state and nuclear power, declares: Do not expect any change in its policy.
“The DPRK, as a responsible nuclear weapons state, will lead the trend of history to the only road of independence and justice, weathering all tempests on this planet.”