Threat of nu­clear at­tack by North Korea ac­cel­er­at­ing

Sunday Observer - - NEWS - EOUL -

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.

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