US defense chief threatens 'massive military response' if North Korea attacks

by Garry Watts September 6, 2017, 9:21
US defense chief threatens 'massive military response' if North Korea attacks

Speaking outside the White House following a meeting with President Donald Trump, defence secretary James Mattis said the United States would respond to any threat to the country or its allies with a military response that would be "effective and overwhelming".

He added: "Kim Jong-Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council's unified voice".

North Korea flew a Hwasong-12 over northern Japan last week, the first such overflight by a missile capable of carrying nukes, in a launch that Kim described as a "meaningful prelude" to containing Guam, the home of major USA military facilities, and more ballistic missile tests targeting the Pacific.

Meanwhile, world leaders, including those from France, Russia and China, also condemned Sunday's test.

Pyongyang's test Sunday of what is thought to be its most powerful nuclear weapon doesn't change that fact, experts say.

Mattis noted, however, that the US does not seek North Korea's annihilation.

Asked about Mr Turnbull's call for China to do more, a foreign ministry spokesman said, "for a long time China has been working relentlessly for the settlement of this issue. we keep stressing we can't rely exclusively on China".

"We can't do this alone, we have to be working with them, to see if there's any kind of negotiated solution, short of going in there preemptively and then causing millions of people in another country to die", she said. This action followed threats of an attack on the waters near the US island territory of Guam which prompted a strong reaction from President Trump.

Pyongyang claimed on Saturday that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.

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After meeting with President Trump and Vice President Pence for a national security briefing Sunday afternoon, Secretary of Defense James Mattis threatened possible military action as a response to North Korea's test of a hydrogen bomb capable of being attached to an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The heightened tensions with North Korea come as Congress returns to Washington after Labor Day, with Senator Amy Klobuchar among those urging caution.

South Korean officials watch news broadcasts showing North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un, at the Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul on September 3, 2017.

Trump's threat to halt all economic ties with any country that does business with North Korea amounts to his biggest trade salvo to date and would be almost impossible to pull off without having enormous implications for the US economy. "The president wanted to be briefed on each one of them", the US Defence Secretary said. In 1985, the North Korean government signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but, within a few years, began construction of its first nuclear facility.

Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.

North Korea "has ignored the global community's widespread opposition, again carrying out a nuclear test". But he summed up North Korea's rapid progress with a dire warning.

"A successful test means they can build a weapon, not that they have any ready for immediate use", said Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center.

"Our message to the Chinese is that we think there's more scope for you to put economic pressure on the North Koreans".

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