U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis pledged a “massive military response — a response both effective and overwhelming” to any North Korean attack and President Trump threatened to halt trade with countries that deal with North Korea after the rogue state launched its sixth and largest nuclear test yesterday, an underground detonation of what it said is a hydrogen bomb.
The tough talk came as leader Kim Jong Un’s regime claimed “perfect success” in the nuclear test, the first of its kind since Trump took office.
Asked yesterday by a reporter during a trip to church services if he would attack the North, Trump said: “We’ll see.”
Following a meeting with Trump, Mattis said any threat by North Korea to the U.S. or its allies would be “met with a massive military response,” but that America does not seek the “total annihilation” of the country.
Members of Congress expressed alarm at the test, and emphasized strengthening U.S. missile defenses. Leaders in Russia, China and Europe issued condemnations. The U.N. Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for today.
Joshua Pollack, editor of the The Nonproliferation Review, said that while further tests will confirm the exact characteristics of the weapon, evidence exists that its power is in the “hundreds of kilotons, whereas each previous test was maybe a dozen at most.”
“We’re talking about an order of magnitude jump, that is clearly a big technological advance,” Pollack said.
South Korea’s military says it conducted a live-fire exercise simulating an attack on North Korea’s nuclear test site to “strongly warn” Pyongyang over the latest nuclear test.
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the target was set considering the distance to where the North’s test site was and the exercise was aimed at practicing precision strikes and cutting off reinforcements.
Trump, however, took a jab at ally South Korea, tweeting Seoul is finding its “talk of appeasement” toward North Korea will not work because North Koreans “only understand one thing,” implying military force might be required. The president also suggested putting more pressure on China, North Korea’s patron, tweeting that the U.S. is considering “stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.” The U.S. imports about $40 billion in goods a month from China.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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