Threat of nuclear attack by North Korea accelerating
SUS Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday the threat of nuclear missile attack by North Korea is accelerating. In remarks in Seoul with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young- moo at his side, Mattis accused the North of illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear programmes — and vowed to defeat any attack.
Mattis said the North engages in "over-the-top rhetoric" and behaviour. And he said the US will never accept a nuclear North.
He added that regardless of what the North might try, it is overmatched by the firepower and cohesiveness of the decades-old USSouth Korean alliance.
"North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbours and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programmes," he said, adding that US-South Korean military and diplomatic collaboration thus has taken on "a new urgency."
As he emphasised throughout his week-long Asia trip, which included s t ops in Thail a nd a nd t he Philippines, Mattis said diplomacy remains the preferred way to deal with the North.
"With that said," he added, "make no mistake — any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response that is effective and overwhelming." Mattis's comments in Seoul did not go beyond his recent statements of concern about North Korea, although he appeared to inject a stronger note about the urgency of resolving the crisis.
While he accused the North of "outlaw" behaviour, he did not mention that President Donald Trump has ratcheted up his own rhetoric. In August, Trump warned the North not to make any more threats against the United States, and said that if it did, it would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen."
Song, the South Korean minister, told the news conference that he and Mattis agreed that limits on South Korea conventional missile warhead payloads would be lifted. He offered no specifics.
Also discussed were the conditions under which South Korea would be given wartime operational control of its forces. Currently, if war with the North broke out, the South's forces would operate under the US-led UN Command.
Trump entered office declaring his commitment to solving the North Korea problem, asserting that he would succeed where his predecessors had failed.