In a written statement delivered Monday to the House Armed Services Committee, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declared that North Korea’s advancing missile and nuclear programs were the “most urgent” threat to national security and that its means to deliver them had increased in pace and scope.
“The regime’s nuclear weapons program is a clear and present danger to all, and the regime’s provocative actions, manifestly illegal under international law, have not abated despite United Nations’ censure and sanctions,” Mattis wrote.
“The most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security is North Korea,” the statement read. “North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has increased in pace and scope.”
Following North Korea’s repeated missile tests, the U.N. Security Council expanded targeted sanctions against the country in early June, implementing the first such resolution agreed by the United States and China since President Trump took office.
North Korea has pledged to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, and has been honing their weaponry via dozens of missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the beginning of 2016.
Speaking before the U.N. Security Council, Mattis warned of the severity of a U.S. conflict with North Korea.
“It would be a war like nothing we have seen since 1953 and we would have to deal with it with whatever level of force was necessary … It would be a very, very serious war,” Mattis said.
Following three years of fighting, the Korean War ended in 1953. The war claimed the lives of 140,000 South Koreans, 36,000 U.S. soldiers and 1 million civilians.
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