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Mattis Threatens 'Overwhelming Response' If Kim Jong-Un Fires Off A Nuke
04 February 2017, 12:44 | Wayne Allen
According to Reuters, North Korea has also apparently restarted operation of a reactor at its main Yongbyon nuclear facility, which produces plutonium to be used for the country's nuclear weapons program.
North Korea has recently claimed that it is nearly ready to test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which could threaten the western seaboard of the U.S. Addressing this, Mattis said: "North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program, and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior", adding that U.S. commitments to defending its allies "remain ironclad".
Hwang said there is a need to change North Korea's "strategic calculus" through worldwide sanctions and pressure.
Speaking about his first overseas visit - to South Korea and Japan rather than the Middle East or Europe - Mattis said the goal was to "underscore America's priority commitment to our bilateral alliance" and make clear the administration's "full commitment" to defending South Korea's democracy.
South Korea and Japan are looking to Mattis for guarantees that the longstanding alliances between the countries will stand.
North Korea issues regular threats to destroy South Korea and the United States and conducted more than 20 missile tests a year ago, which also include two nuclear tests.
Mattis met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today - another ally strongly opposed to Kim's regime.
"It seems to me that the policy of strategic patience that was exercised by the last U.S. government may be over, and that the reaction from North Korea is going to be harshly negative". "It has been clear to me for some time that the USA and ROK governments have meant to deploy THAAD without waiting for a new Korean president to take office", Scott Snyder, director of the program on U.S. -Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in an email.
A view of artillery fire and landing exercises guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not seen) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 21, 2015.
He also said "any attack on the U.S. or our allies will be defeated", in comments to reporters ahead of a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Han Min Koo.
There are some 28,500 US servicemembers stationed in South Korea and 50,000 in Japan.
Relations between staunch US ally South Korea and communist China were poor for decades in the wake of the Korean War (1950-1953), but growing economic ties led to warmer ties in recent years.
The United States is planning to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defense system to South Korea to safeguard from threats from the North, though it has been shrouded in doubt given approaching elections in South Korea.
Lotte Group, which is to provide the site for South Korea to host an advanced United States missile defense system, on Friday deferred a final decision on accepting a government-proposed land exchange.
In Beijing, during a regular press briefing on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China's position on THAAD has not changed.
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