U.S. Defensive Secretary James Mattis warned of big consequences for failure to resolve the United States’ differences with North Korea via diplomacy. He said that it would be ‘catastrophic’ if tensions ever come to that.
“A conflict with North Korea would be the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes. This regime is a threat to the region, to South Korea, to Japan. And in the event of war, they would bring danger to Russia and to China as well,” Mattis added. “But the bottom line is, it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat if we are not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means.”
The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on Earth – Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
In the same conversation, Mattis described pursuing a more aggressive approach to the fight against the Islamic State.
“The bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot. We have already shifted from attrition tactics where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them,” he said.
The defense secretary said that North Korea isn’t only a threat abroad, calling it a “direct threat to the United States.”
“They have been very clear in their rhetoric, we don’t have to wait until they have an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear weapon on it to say that now it’s manifested completely,” Mattis said.
North Korea has attempted seven missile tests in 2017, including two recent tests in one week alone, keeping the world on edge.
“We always assume that with a testing program they get better with each test, Mattis added, but he declined to say when North Korea could reach a red-line point of no return.
“We consider it a direct Korean threat,” Mattis said. “As far as that specific threat, I don’t want to put a timeline on it. At this time, what we know, I’d prefer to keep silent about because we may actually know some things the North Koreans don’t even know.”
Preparing for North Korea’s growing threat, the Pentagon will attempt to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test, with the goal of more closely simulating a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S.