As North Korea draws closer to having long-range nuclear missiles capable of hitting the US and its allies, American leaders are faced with the complex question of how to deal with the aggressive Kim Jong-un regime.
As The Hill reports, Defense Secretary, General James Mattis, issued a clear warning to Pyongyang on Sunday, stating, “Any threat to the United States or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response.”
The former Marine Corps General made his remarks outside the White House and spoke in direct response to North Korea’s claim earlier that day that it has developed a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit into an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
According to the Washington Post, Pyongyang released footage on Sunday of a nuclear bomb detonation. North Korea claims it was a hydrogen bomb, and that it can fit inside a missile to reach significant targets.
Even if the nuclear device seen in the footage was not a hydrogen bomb, it nevertheless displays greater destructive power than the last weapon the Kim regime tested. In fact, it is nearly seven times more powerful than the bomb dropped on the Japanese island of Hiroshima during World War II.
Mattis has generally used less abrasive rhetoric toward North Korea than President Trump. As Reuters notes, the Defense Secretary recently stated that “we are never out of diplomatic solutions” after the President tweeted “talking is not the answer.”
As reported by CNN, Trump’s Twitter post came after North Korea flew a missile over Japan. Despite Mattis’ more subdued approach, he is now following the President’s lead in asserting the use of force if Kim continues his provocations.
Mattis emphasized that the international community would be united against North Korea should they launch a strike, saying, “Kim Jong-un should take heed the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses.”
However, the Defense Secretary stated that the US does not seek North Korea’s destruction. “Because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely, North Korea” Mathis went on to indicate that “many military options” exist for resolving the North Korean situation, an echo to Trump’s earlier comment that “all options are on the table,” as covered by CNBC.
For the most part, North Korea shows no signs of slowing down its nuclear program. As the Daily Caller reports, South Korea’s defense ministry revealed Monday that Pyongyang is preparing for the launch of a second ICBM as a follow-up to the one it fired over Japanese airspace last week. Experts believe they may carry out the launch as early as September 9.
North Korea’s saber-rattling has moved on to the alleged development of a hydrogen bomb. Has Kim Jong-un achieved his goal of developing weapons of mass destruction?
The typical US response to North Korean nuclear tests has been to levy sanctions against their hostile regime. But Kim has not let sanctions deter his efforts. According to ABC News, Trump has threatened to cut trade with countries that deal with North Korea.
The threat specifically targets China, which has regularly touted its ability to “haul in” North Korea–without any visible results. While it is yet unknown whether economic measures against China would be feasible, events suggest that the situation calls for a novel solution.