Defense Secretary James Mattis has issued a warning to North Korea. Addressing the nation as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), his Wednesday statement makes it clear that the United States will not tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Mattis said in his statement. “The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”
Mattis’s statement comes the day after President Donald Trump issued a stern warning to North Korea’s leaders. Making the brief statement from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Tuesday, President Trump stated unequivocally that the United States is prepared to take action if necessary.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” the president said. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
President Trump further stated that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been behaving in a very threatening way and that the behavior was not normal.
According to U.S. Intelligence officials, North Korea has successfully created a small nuclear warhead, crossing “a key threshold” to becoming a fully-fledged nuclear power. It’s possible that they have up to 60 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
North Korea continues to test intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), and a recent test showed the rogue nation may already be capable of hitting the U.S. and Canada.
Following the president’s warning, North Korea suggested it could launch an attack on Guam. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded with a statement of his own Wednesday, saying President Trump was looking to send a “strong message” to North Korea that the United States was prepared to defend itself and its allies.
Mattis’s remarks may be a coordinated signal from the White House, meant to alert North Korea that the U.S. is aware of the growing threat presented by the nation’s rapidly advancing military capabilities. It may also be a signal to China, North Korea’s main ally.
Mattis further indicated that President Trump was informed about the intensifying situation last December. He said, “On taking office, his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces.”
South Korea remains a major deterrent for pursuing military action, as any military exchange could have a devastating impact on the neighboring country. Yet, in his signature, straight-forward style, Mattis makes America’s position very clear.
Mattis’s full statement:
“The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK poses a threat to global security and stability. The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.
“President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”
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