U.S.: Military solution to North Korea would be 'tragic on an unbelievable scale'




  • In World
  • 2017-05-19 19:32:49Z
  • By By Phil Stewart and David Brunnstrom

By Phil Stewart and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday that any military solution to the North Korea crisis would be "tragic on an unbelievable scale" and Washington was working internationally to find a diplomatic solution.

North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally, calling them legitimate self-defense.

It has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland, and experts say its test on Sunday of a new missile was another important step toward that aim.

"We are going to continue to work the issue," Mattis told a Pentagon news conference.

"If this goes to a military solution, it's going to be tragic on an unbelievable scale. So our effort is to work with the U.N., work with China, work with Japan, work with South Korea to try to find a way out of this situation."

The remarks were one of the clearest indicators yet that President Donald Trump's administration will seek to exhaust alternatives before turning to military action to force Pyongyang's hand.

The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea to guard against the North Korean threat, has called on China to do more to rein in its neighbor.

Mattis appeared to defend China's most recent efforts, even as he acknowledged Pyongyang's march forward.

"They (North Korea) clearly aren't listening but there appears to be some impact by the Chinese working here. It's not obviously perfect when they launch a missile," Mattis said, when asked about Sunday's launch.

RE-ENTRY CAPABILITY?

South Korea has said the North's missile program was progressing faster than expected, with Sunday's test considered successful in flight.

North Korea said the launch tested the capability to carry a "large-size heavy nuclear warhead," and its ambassador in Beijing has said that Pyongyang would continue such test launches "any time, any place."

Mattis acknowledged that Pyongyang had likely learned a great deal from the latest test of what U.S. officials say was a KN-17 missile, which was believed to have survived re-entry to some degree.

"They went to a very high apogee and when it came down obviously from that altitude they probably learned a lot from it. But I'm not willing to characterize it beyond that right now," Mattis said.

David Wright, co-director and senior scientist at the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, the big question was whether North Korea could build a re-entry vehicle for a long-range missile that wouldn't burn up during re-entry and could keep a warhead from becoming too hot in the process.

"This test in principle gave them a lot of information about this, assuming they had sensors that could send information back during reentry so they could monitor the heat, or they could recover the reentry vehicle and examine it," he said.

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

COMMENTS

More Related News

N. Korea fires ballistic missile: S. Korea, Japan
N. Korea fires ballistic missile: S. Korea, Japan
  • World
  • 2017-05-28 22:55:29Z

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Monday, the South's military and Japan said, a move that ratcheted up tensions over the North's quest to develop weapons capable of hitting the United States. The test is the latest launch by Pyongyang this year as the isolated regime steps up efforts

Better times? Hong Kong
Better times? Hong Kong's British nostalgia trip
  • World
  • 2017-05-28 07:07:23Z

From its rattling trams and racecourses to its legal system and the ubiquitous consumption of Spam, Britain's colonial legacy still resonates through Hong Kong. The old Hong Kong flag, emblazoned with the Union Jack and a dragon and lion motif, is waved by anti-China activists and local football

China says fighter jets
China says fighter jets' intercept of US plane 'safe'
  • World
  • 2017-05-28 06:48:35Z

China on Sunday denied the Pentagon's charge that an encounter between Chinese fighters and a US surveillance plane over the South China Sea was "unsafe and unprofessional". Tensions between the two economic superpowers have risen in recent years over the disputed waterway, which China claims almost in full despite counter-claims from other Asian nations. Chinese J-10 warplanes intercepted a US Navy P-3 that was operating in international airspace Wednesday, according to Pentagon spokesman Commander Gary Ross.

North Korea leader Kim guides test of new anti-aircraft weapon
North Korea leader Kim guides test of new anti-aircraft weapon
  • World
  • 2017-05-28 00:48:33Z

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has supervised the test of a new anti-aircraft weapon system and ordered its mass production and deployment throughout the country, the state news agency reported on Sunday, after weeks of defiant ballistic missile tests. The North's KCNA news agency did not report

U.S., Japan agree to enhance North Korea sanctions - White House
U.S., Japan agree to enhance North Korea sanctions - White House

By Steve Holland TAORMINA, Italy (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Friday to expand sanctions against North Korea over its continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the White House said. Pyongyang has carried out repeated missile tests in the past year, prompting an array of countries to demand tougher economic sanctions to push the isolated country towards dismantling its weapons programmes. Meeting before a Group of Seven summit, Trump and Abe dedicated much of their discussion to the issue, aides said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.