As North Korea continues to provoke the U.S and its allies, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the U.S. military has not attempted to shoot down any of North Korea’s missiles — yet. The U.S. may be considering doing so in the future, even if no threat is present.
Making remarks from the Pentagon on Monday, Mattis said the military has not attempted to intercept missiles, including the two that were launched over Japan recently, because they have not posed a direct threat. He notes that the U.S. and Japanese missile defenses stand ready to respond when needed, according to the Associated Press.
If a North Korean missile were to pose a direct threat to U.S. or Japanese territory, he said Monday, “that would elicit a different response from us.”
North Korea has said it is developing a long-range missile force and plans to ensure it’s capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, has repeatedly threatened U.S. territories and its allies. Of particular concern are threats made by Kim recently against the US territory of Guam.
Kim’s tests drew the attention of the United Nations (UN), whose Security Council strongly condemned the launches over Japan as “highly provocative.” They voted unanimously to adopt a US-drafted resolution to hit North Korea with new sanctions, after the rogue nation claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb on September 3.
Mattis said North Korea is “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.”
As tensions continue to build, CNN is reporting, via an unnamed official who declined to speak on the record due to the sensitivity of the issue, that the US may be considering shooting down a North Korean ballistic missile, even if that launch does not pose a direct threat to the US or its allies.
Citing an official “directly familiar with options planning within the Trump administration,” CNN reports that the military may be taking into consideration whether North Korea’s missile program “has progressed to the level of being such an inherent threat that the Pentagon would recommend targeting a missile even if its trajectory did not indicate it would hit the U.S. or its allies.”
President Donald J. Trump has maintained that a full range of options remains in play for the military, in response to North Korea’s provocations. The idea of shooting down a missile that doesn’t pose a threat is not new. But the unnamed official reportedly said the potential for a shoot-down, without a direct threat, “remains very real.”
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