Mattis hints at U.S. military options for North Korea

Cheryl Sanders
September 19, 2017

"I will not go into details", he said.

The Pentagon chief also said the US did not shoot down the ballistic missile that North Korea fired over Japan last week, as the allies did not consider it a direct threat to their national security. North Korea needs weapons that can target Japan, Guam and the US mainland to show that they are prepared for a war with not just South Korea, but with those allies as well. "There is a military option".

In the North's most recent test, it demonstrated the ability to hit Guam, home to more than 100,000 civilians and numerous USA strategic military assets. He argued that the pressure is working, and gave as an example Mexico's decision to expel the North Korean ambassador in Mexico City. The ministry said that after looking at the missile's height, distance, speed and flight time with their US counterparts, they can conclude that it was a Hwasong-12 intermediate range rocket.

"No. 1, those missiles are not directly threatening any of us", he said.


Spain, Peru and Kuwait, according to news reports, also have ordered North Korean ambassadors and envoys out of their countries.

Japan and US missile defenses and radars are operating, he added, and North Korea is intentionally initiating provocations "that seem to press against the envelope for just how far can they push without going over some kind of a line in their minds that would make them vulnerable".

Both Russia and China have urged all sides against unnecessary escalation of the conflict, and have proposed a "double-freeze" plan which would see Pyongyang suspend its nuclear and ballistic missile tests in exchange for a halt in joint US-South Korea military exercises.

(Korean - ) "Through this latest test North Korea has clearly shown that they can now hit Guam".


Such an attempt is hugely risky, however, as the massively expensive missile interceptors haven't got the best track record, even in tests under optimal circumstances. Mattis happened to be at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters near Omaha, Nebraska, at the time of the launch and afterward condemned it for forcing "millions of Japanese" to "duck and cover".

The North Koreans "are intentionally doing provocations that seem to press against the envelope for just how far can they push without going over some kind of a line, in their minds, that would make them vulnerable", he said.

Mattis said the USA and Japan did not shoot it down because it did not pose a direct threat to either nation.


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