The United States is closer than ever before to war with North Korea, according to Mike Mullen, a retired admiral who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Barack Obama.
In an interview broadcast by ABC's This Week programme he said he did not see any diplomatic resolution to the stand-off with Pyongyang as it goes about developing its nuclear missile capability and Donald Trump's continues with his provocative rhetoric.
"We're actually closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been," he said on Sunday. "I don't see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point."
Mr Trump has threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself and repeatedly warned that all options are open to him.
Meanwhile, South Korean authorities revealed they had seized a Panama-flagged vessel suspected of delivering oil products to North Korea in violation of international sanctions.
The seizure was the second to be announced by South Korea within a few days, as the United Nations steps up efforts to squeeze essential oil supplies to the reclusive North following its nuclear or ballistic missile tests.
Mr Mullen, who also headed the Joint Chiefs under President George W Bush, said the crisis on the Korean peninsula was an example of the "dangerous climate" created by a president intent on upending Washington's traditional approach to foreign policy.
"I'm just more inclined to see over time that the rhetoric seems to be where the President is," he said.
However, he added that for now the likes of James Mattis, defence secretary, John Kelly, White House chief of staff, HR McMaster, national security adviser, had managed to rein in the president.