An undated photo released by the North Korean state news agency shows Kim Jong-un, third from the right, purportedly guiding the work for nuclear weaponisation at an undisclosed location in North Korea.
An undated photo released by the North Korean state news agency shows Kim Jong-un, third from the right, purportedly guiding the work for nuclear weaponisation at an undisclosed location in North Korea. KCNA

Many diplomatic options, says Mattis

US DEFENCE Secretary James Mattis has said the US is not looking for the "annihilation” of North Korea, but stressed there were "many options” in how to respond to Pyongyang's latest nuclear bomb test.

Mr Mattis said Donald Trump met with a small group of military and defence officials at the White House after US intelligence officials confirmed the test of a bomb reportedly ready to fit onto an intercontinental ballistic missile.

"We made it clear we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies,” Mr Mattis said.

He said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un should "take heed” of the United Nations Security Council's "unified voice” on the issue, as shown by its decision to impose sanctions as well as its "commitment to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula”.

The Defence Secretary also stressed the "iron-clad” commitments of the US to allies such as South Korea and Japan.

"Any threat to the US”, its territories like the Pacific island of Guam, or its allies would be met with a "massive military response ... both effective and overwhelming,” Mr Mattis said.

He said the group of military advisers had briefed the President on each of the military responses available.

Mr Trump has previously made it known "all options are on the table” with regards to North Korea, raising fears of war. As he left church on Sunday morning, a reporter asked whether military action would be taken, he replied simply, "We'll see”.

Mr Mattis, however, has said the US will never run out of diplomatic solutions, implying military action against Mr Kim is a last resort.

A few months ago it was reported North Korea had developed a nuclear warhead it could fit on an inter-continental ballistic missile.

A week ago, Pyongyang fired a missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido, and then came the test on Sunday of what North Korea said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.

Hours later, South Korea responded with an exercise involving surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and F-15K fighter jets, simulating an attack on North Korea's nuclear test site.

With the UN Security Council set to hold an emergency to discuss the situation, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the North's latest test as "profoundly destabilising for regional security”.



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