North Korea Threat: Nuclear War With U.S. Closer Than Ever, Retired Admiral Says

Admiral Michael Mullen speaks onstage at the 2017 New York City Salute to Service Awards at Metropolitan Pavilion on April 26, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Team Rubicon USA. Getty Images

Never in history have North Korea and the U.S. been closer to a nuclear war, a retired U.S. Navy admiral said on Sunday morning.

And the negotiating table doesn't appear to be an option, added Adm. Mike Mullen, who is also the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We're actually closer in my view to a nuclear with North Korea and in that region than we've ever been and I just don't see how, I don't see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point," Mullen said on ABC News' This Week.

Former Joint Chiefs chair Adm. Mike Mullen to @MarthaRaddatz: "We're actually closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we've ever been."

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) December 31, 2017

Mullen said that the future rests in large part on the actions of China, which has traditionally been North Korea's closest ally and has been asked by President Donald Trump to increase pressure on the rogue regime.

"Well I think President Trump has made China move more than they have in the past. Whether they will continue to do that, to help resolve this, is the open question," Mullen said. "And I think a real measure of how this all comes out is whether China is going to commit to a peaceful resolution here."

It's "much more likely" that conflict will be the outcome if China does not commit to a peaceful resolution, he said.

North Korea's foreign ministry last Sunday in a statement called the latest round of crippling sanctions unanimously approved by the United Nations Security Council an "act of war."

"We define this 'sanctions resolution' rigged up by the U.S. and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the region, and categorically reject the 'resolution,'" the statement released by the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) read.

After the United Nations council passed the resolution, drafted by the U.S., Trump tweeted, "The World wants Peace, not Death!"

Neither Trump nor North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have backed off from a war of words. In August, Trump threatened to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen," but North Korea has reiterated its commitment to furthering its nuclear and missile development program.

Mullen said that Trump's presidency has been "incredibly disruptive."

"Our enemies, those that would do us ill, seem to be able to take advantage of the uncertainty as well," Mullen told ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz on the show. "And you mentioned both Russia and China and my expectation is that will continue to be the case for them, as well as Iran and North Korea."