Mattis hints at secret 'kinetic' military options for North Korea

Pauline Gross
September 20, 2017

Mattis made the remark on Monday during a news briefing at the Pentagon when asked whether there were military options that would not seriously endanger Seoul.

Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, which beyond nuclear and conventional weapons is also believed to have a sizable chemical and biological arsenal. "But I will not go into details".

The remark by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis marks a departure from the popular argument that there is no viable military option that would not leave thousands of South Koreans and United States service members dead. USA nuclear weapons were withdrawn from the Korean peninsula in the early 1990s at the close of the Cold War.

Mattis also confirmed that the USA and Seoul had discussed the option of sending limited-size "tactical" nuclear weapons to South Korea. "I want to say", he said.

Trump has vowed that North Korea will never be allowed to threaten the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile, but he has also asked China to do more to rein in its neighbour.

On North Korea's latest ballistic missile test last Friday, which saw a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile fly over Japan to land in the northern Pacific, Mattis said Japanese and USA military bases in Japan did not shoot it down because it wasn't "directly threatening any of us".

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He said North Korea is deliberately carrying out tests that come as close as possible to provoking the US without drawing a military response.

Mattis discussed several aspects of the North Korea crisis in an impromptu exchange with reporters at the Pentagon, including the effect of global economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

The US president has not ruled out a military option, which could leave millions of people in the South Korean capital - and 28,500 US soldiers stationed in the South - vulnerable to potential retaliatory attack.

"So, yes, it's working", he said.

Its request, however, was rejected during talks with Joseph Yun, special representative for North Korea policy, and Eliot Kang, acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.

Mattis said the Pentagon has not attempted to shoot down the two recent missiles, nor any others, because they have not posed a direct threat, The Associated Press reported.

Other reports by GizPress

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