The defence secretary also said he believed that the United States had found military options to handle the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula that would not put the South Korean capital, Seoul, at grave risk, though he refused to elaborate on what those might be.
Earlier South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in vowed strong punishment on the North, adding the situation was the “most serious and urgent security issue in this region at the current moment”.
But, according to Mattis, the Pentagon has a few tricks up its sleeve that wouldn’t involve the decimation of Seoul.
North Korea “may take further provocative actions including launching ballistic missiles that would fly over Japan again in the future”, Onodera said.
It comes after North Korea launched another provocative missile over Japan on Friday amid repeated threats to the US. Artillery, rockets, missiles, and other munitions are scattered throughout the North – many in secret locations – and the Kim regime maintains an ironclad hold on power.
The United States and its allies have not shot down any North Korean missiles because Pyongyang has yet to launch one that directly threatens USA or Japanese territory, Defence Secretary James Mattis has said. He wouldn’t say, but he did let slip one interesting comment.
As a first strike would be unlikely to eliminate all of North Korea’s conventional and nuclear weapons – not to mention its chemical or biological ones – U.S. policymakers have traditionally held the view that a pre-emptive strike would likely put an untenable number of civilians at risk.
US Army forces ride an armored vehicle during a joint military exercise between the US and South Korea in Pocheon, South Korea on September 19, 2017.
“I won’t go into detail”, he told reporters at the Pentagon during an unannounced news conference on Monday.
The Blue House said Mr Moon and Mr Trump had strongly condemned the latest missile launch by North Korea, and agreed the two nations would work with the worldwide community to implement the latest UN Security Council’s resolution 2375.
He was referring to an accelerating series of missile tests by North Korea that have defied USA and worldwide warnings to stop.
“To the contrary, it just adds to tensions and makes achieving the goal of de-nuclearization on the peninsula appear more complicated and hard to resolve”, the Chinese official added, responding to a question about Mattis’ comments at a regular briefing. Mattis acknowledged discussing that with his South Korean counterpart but declined to say whether that option was under consideration.
Japan on Tuesday moved a mobile missile-defense system on the northern island of Hokkaido to a base near recent North Korean missile flyover routes.
South Korea has raised the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to the peninsula.
Japan’s Constitution, which limits the use of force to self-defense, only allows the military to shoot down missiles that are heading to Japan, or debris falling onto Japanese territory.