Britain is secretly making plans for war with North Korea — and HMS Queen Elizabeth could be deployed early

A man in South Korea walks by screens showing news reports of a North Korean nuclear test.

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A man in South Korea walks by screens showing news reports of a North Korean nuclear test.
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Reuters

    Britain has been secretly outlining plans if war broke out with Kim Jong Un’s regime, the Daily Mail reported. It could involve deploying HMS Queen Elizabeth, the country’s £3 billion aircraft carrier, early. Britain would be part of a “global coalition” against North Korea. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said last week the Britons “should not be squeamish about” deploying combat troops.

The UK has secretly started drawing up plans for war with North Korea, the Daily Mail has revealed.

British Armed Forces officials have been asked to outline plans for how the UK would respond if war broke out with Kim Jong Un’s regime, Whitehall sources told the newspaper.

One course of action could be to deploy HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s £3 billion ($3.9 billion) aircraft carrier, alongside 12 F-35B fighter jets, the Mail said.

“We have plenty of ships to send… the Type-45 destroyers, the Type-23 frigates,” a senior Whitehall source told the Mail. “Britain’s new aircraft carrier could be pressed into service early if things turn south.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth embarked on her maiden voyage this summer and is currently docked at her home port of Portsmouth. She has not yet undergone flight trials, and expects to be commissioned by the Royal Navy later this year or early next year, a Ministry of Defence spokesman told Business Insider.

And while the ship could carry up to 40 fighter jets and helicopters at full strength, it currently has none of those aircraft on deck. The UK has 12 F-35 Lightning II jets on trial in the United States, and expects to have fighter jets flying off the Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, the Prince of Wales, by 2020.

HMS Queen Elizabeth.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth.
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HMS Queen Elizabeth/Twitter

“The UK would be part of a united global coalition” in the fight against North Korea, a Royal Navy source told the Mail. “We would see what support we could give.”

Earlier this month, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon called for an increase in the UK’s defence spending, expressed support for the US’s efforts to contain Pyongyang, and threatened to use Britain’s nuclear weapons against the country.

He told the Conservative Party Conference: “North Korea’s illegal testing underlines just how irresponsible it would be to scrap the deterrent that protects us. It is all very well [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn saying he would never use nuclear weapons but Manchester and London are closer to Pyongyang than Los Angeles.

“Being prepared, in the most extreme circumstances, to use nuclear weapons is what separates a Prime Minister from a pacifist.”

He also told a fringe meeting at the Conference that the country “should not be squeamish about” deploying combat troops in a future war.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

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US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Britain’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
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Thomson Reuters

Last week, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency carried a statement criticising Fallon for a separate “reckless remark” disparaging Pyongyang’s nuclear development. It said the country was “watching [the UK’s] moves carefully with due vigilance.”

Britain could join the US in its fight against North Korea, even though it doesn’t have to under NATO or United Nations obligations, the House of Commons Library said in two reports this year.

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump tweeted that negotiations and signed agreements haven’t “worked” to contain North Korea’s nuclear threats and ambitions in the past, adding: “Sorry, but only one thing will work!”

The statement directly contradicted that of Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, who told reporters last month that Washington had a direct line of communication with Pyongyang.

The British plans emerged as South Korea was getting ready to build a “blackout bomb,” a non-lethal graphite weapon that could destroy North Korea’s electricity grid when dropped, Yonhap news agency reported.