Britain is reportedly preparing for the possibility of war breaking out with North Korea as concerns rise that another provocative missile test could trigger a military response by the US.
North Korea is being closely watched amid fears it could launch another long-range missile test on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the founding of its ruling party.
Bellicose rhetoric from Donald Trump has heightened tensions in the region in recent months, prompting British officials to draw up military plans for a response to a break out of hostilities, it was reported.
Among the plans disclosed by the Daily Mail is the deployment of the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, before it has undergone flight trials.
“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 newspaper.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, which arrived at its home in Portsmouth in August after extensive sea trials, is not due to enter service until 2020.
The possible move to deploy it ahead of schedule drew comparisons with the start of the Falklands War.
“In the Falklands we had to react to an event and HMS Illustrious was accelerated to respond,” a Navy source told 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.”
The US president hinted on Saturday at taking military action against Kim Jong-un’s regime, saying “only one thing will work” in dealing with the country.
The president has previously said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies from Pyongyang’s nuclear threats.
Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said last week that the UK should increase its military spending in the face of growing threats from states such as North Korea.
Last month, Sir Michael told the BBC that Britain was at risk from Pyongyang’’s long-range nuclear missile programme.
“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,” he said.