‘The president's been very clear … we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts,” US defense chief says
North Korea's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities does not bring the U.S. "close to war" US not closer to war after N.Korea's ICBM launch, American defense chief James Mattis said Thursday.
“I do not believe this capability in itself brings us close to war because the president's been very clear, and secretary of state's been very clear that we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
His comments come as the U.S. weighs a response to the latest missile test by North Korea earlier this week.
The top defense official suggested military action “would lead to severe consequences,” and he said the U.S. military is ready to support its Japanese and South Korean allies.
Mattis brushed off suggestions diplomatic efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have failed. “Diplomacy has not failed. As Gen. [Vincent] Brooks said it so well, it is our self-restraint that has prevented war in the face of provocations,” he said of the top American commander in South Korea.
North Korea announced its first successful ICBM test Tuesday, claiming the missile reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers (1,740 miles) and flew 933 kilometers (580 miles) for 39 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan.
A South Korean military official said the missile may have a range of 6,000 kilometers (3,730 miles) -- potentially within reach of the U.S. state of Alaska.
The North has been repeatedly punished by the United Nations Security Council for carrying out rogue nuclear and missile tests.
South Korea, by contrast, adheres to strict U.S. guidelines, including limiting its ballistic missile range to no more than 800 km (497 miles).