US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has warned that any attack on the United States or its allies will be met with a “massive military response,” and said that while the US was not “looking for the total annihilation” of North Korea, it had “many options to do so.”
“We have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies South Korea and Japan from attack, and our commitments to our allies are ironclad,” Mattis said in a statement he read out to journalists outside the White House.
“Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam or our allies, will be met with a massive military response – a response both effective and overwhelming.
“We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country – namely, North Korea. But as I said, we have many options to do so.
“We had a small group national security meeting today with the president and the vice president… We have many military options and the president wanted to be briefed on each one of them,” said Mattis, who was one of the first Trump cabinet members to be confirmed by Congress in January.
Mattis urged Pyongyang to respect the UN Security Council resolutions that have imposed sanctions on the country for both nuclear and missile tests, the latest of which was passed last month.
“Kim Jong-un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses. And they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
On Sunday, North Korea announced that it had performed a “completely successful” underground test of a hydrogen bomb, which it claimed could be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. The nature of the test was corroborated through the worldwide detection of a man-made earthquake around the military facility at Punggye-ri, whose power significantly exceeded that produced by the five previous nuclear tests carried out by North Korea.