After Trump speech, Mattis says North Korea crisis still 'diplomatic effort'

by Antonio Miles September 23, 2017, 1:16
After Trump speech, Mattis says North Korea crisis still 'diplomatic effort'

"At this time we must also recognize the somber reality that military options must be available in order to protect our allies and ourselves", said Mattis, who spoke at an annual Air Force conference near Washington.

"We must be willing to do more than to listen to our allies", the USA defense secretary said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hinted on Monday about the existence of military options on North Korea that might spare Seoul from a brutal counterattack but declined to say what kind of options he was talking about or whether they involved the use of lethal force.

"Yes, I don't want to go into that", Mattis responded.

Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, which is also believed to have a sizable chemical and biological arsenal beyond nuclear and conventional weapons.

Any conflict on the Korean peninsula could easily result in a degree of bloodshed unseen since the 1950-53 Korean War, which claimed the lives of more than 50,000 Americans and millions of Koreans and ended in an armed truce, not a peace treaty. China and Russian Federation have repeatedly called for a peaceful solution and talks to resolve the issue.

"We are putting the leader in North Korea in a position to be aware of - [with] the global community voting unanimously twice now in the United Nations Security Council - ... the increasing diplomatic isolation that comes with the economic sanctions", Mattis said.

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He said South Korea is now capable of overcoming any imbalance of power between the North through its ironclad alliance with America.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the most pressing task was for all parties to enforce the latest United Nations resolutions on North Korea fully, rather than "deliberately complicating the issue".

The UN Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously to impose fresh sanctions on North Korea last week after a meeting on September 11 in response to the crisis.

Mr Mattis also said diplomacy and sanctions were working and putting pressure on Pyongyang.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., echoed those sentiments on CNN that same day, saying: "If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed". "The bottom line is that, when the missiles - were they to be a threat, whether it be to USA territory, Guam, obviously Japan - Japan's territory, that would elicit a different response from us", he said. That includes economic sanctions.

South Korea has raised the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to the peninsula.

When asked whether it was possible that such nukes might be deployed to the Korean Peninsula, Mattis said the two sides had "discussed the option", but declined to elaborate. Because of constitutional restrictions, Japan can not shoot down missiles that fly through its airspace but do not directly target it, and has only been able to heat up rhetoric against North Korea.


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