U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Sunday said the United States was not looking “to the total annihilation” of North Korea, which carried out its sixth nuclear test Sunday. But he added that threats to the United States or its allies would be met with “a massive military response.”
Mattis, speaking at a news conference Sunday at the White House, said he and other military officials briefed President Donald Trump at a national security meeting Sunday and outlined military options.
“We made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves, and our allies — South Korea and Japan — from any attack, and our commitments among the allies are ironclad,” Mattis said. “Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam or our allies, will be met with a massive military response — a response both effective and overwhelming.”
Mattis said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses, and they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said we have many options to do so.”
On Sunday, Trump condemned North Korea as a “rogue nation” in a series of posts on Twitter and said the testing was evidence that any “talk of appeasement” between South Korea and North Korea “will not work.”
“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” Trump tweeted. “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”
Later Sunday, Trump tweeted that the United States “is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.”
North Korean officials said the nuclear test was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, but that characterization had yet to be independently confirmed, according to media reports.
North Korean officials on state television described the test as a “perfect success.”
Trump, leaving a church service in Washington on Sunday morning, said “we’ll see” when he was asked whether he plans to attack North Korea.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a member of the National Security Council, said on “Fox News Sunday” that he spoke with Trump after the reports, “and it’s clear that this behavior is completely unacceptable.”
Mnuchin said that while the United States has sanctions in place against North Korea, he plans to “draft a sanctions package to send to the president for his strong consideration — that anybody that wants to do trade or business with them would be prevented from doing trade or business with us.”
He added, “We are going to work with our allies, we’ll work with China, but people need to cut off North Korea economically. This is unacceptable behavior.”
Trump last month promised to bring “fire and fury” to North Korea if it continued making threats against the United States.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), in a tweet Sunday morning, said the United Nations must impose an oil embargo on North Korea “ASAP.” He wrote that “if China or Russia veto” that action, the United States “must sanction any1 doing business with NK, including Bank of China.”
King, in a statement, called on the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, to “introduce a resolution imposing a complete oil embargo on North Korea which receives 90% of its oil from China.”
“North Korea’s latest nuclear test is a serious threat to the United States and the world. Serious action must be taken,” King said. “North Korea could not survive if these sanctions are imposed and enforced. It must also be stressed to North Korea that ALL military options remain on the table. God Bless America!”