23 September, 2017
The United States has "many" military options against North Korea, including some that don't put Seoul at risk, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
Mattis told Congress in June that any such war would be "more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we have seen since 1953", resulting in the "massive shelling" of Seoul while also putting Japan in harm's way.
The North has repeatedly defied the United Nations to conduct nuclear and missile tests, the latest being a mid-range missile fired over Japan on Friday, soon after the reclusive nation's sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3. Leader Kim Jong Un has threatened to fire missiles into waters near Guam, home to US military bases in the Pacific.
Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, which beyond nuclear and conventional weapons is also believed to have a sizable chemical and biological arsenal.
The UN Security Council unanimously passed a US-drafted resolution a week ago mandating tougher new sanctions against Pyongyang that included banning textile imports and capping crude and petrol supply.
It comes as North Korea test launched another missile over Japan on Friday following an earlier hydrogen bomb test which sparked a 6.3 magnitude natural disaster.
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.
Describing North Korea's nuclear threat as the most "urgent and grave" threat in the region, the participants stressed the need for a firm response to North Korea and vowed to enhance multilateral ties to resolve the security crisis.
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"We are dealing with the North Korea situation through the worldwide process and we will continue to do so".
"The U.S. knows it is running out of time as North Korea continues to move inexorably toward its goal of a credible operational nuclear weapons capability against" the continental United States, Davis said.
If such military options do exist, they are largely new to analysts studying the Korean Peninsula.
So far, none of those preparations has been observed, though the US military has ramped up the pace of bilateral exercises with its top Asian allies.
Separately, Mattis also attempted to scale back expectations for a tidy outcome to the 16-year US war in Afghanistan. But there are still no signs of the North halting its relentless provocations.
"To the contrary, it just adds to tensions and makes achieving the goal of de-nuclearization on the peninsula appear more complicated and hard to resolve", the Chinese official added, responding to a question about Mattis' comments at a regular briefing.
Four more of Japan's 34 PAC-3 units, largely used to defend the capital region, were relocated to southwestern Japan recently after North Korea warned of sending missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.
A group of South Korean lawmakers from the opposition Liberty Party Korea said in a statement Sunday that the US government was cool to the idea during a visit to Washington to meet State Department officials, members of Congress and scholars. The U.S. Senate no longer appears willing to stand by and watch.