U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis emphasized diplomatic efforts to resolve the current North Korean crisis. Mattis, while standing at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, said the United States’ “goal is not war.”
Although Mattis stated the United States’ goal was not war, he emphasized on North Korea’s provocations and how it was a threat to regional stability.
“North Korean provocations continue to threaten regional and global security despite unanimous condemnation by the United Nations Security Council,” he said.
Mattis also supported U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by confirming their goal is a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“As Secretary of State Tillerson has made clear, our goal is not war, but rather the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
Touring the DMZ with Mattis, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said: “We together will continue to defend peace through strong will and strong might.”
Although the priority is diplomacy, the United States have been working on military plans to respond if North Korea decides to launch a pre-emptive strike.
“Do we have military options in defense for attack, if our allies are attacked? Of course we do. But everyone is out for a peaceful resolution,” Mattis told reporters traveling with him this week.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, reiterated its warning of retaliation if North Korea keeps provoking the United States and its allies.
In a statement, General Dunford “reaffirmed that any attack by North Korea would be met with a response that will be overwhelming and effective, using the full range of U.S. military capabilities.”
Meanwhile, the United States keeps bolstering its forces on North Korea’s doorstep. United States Air Force strategic bombers keeps flying over waters east of North Korea, and the U.S. Navy will have three carrier strike group in the Pacific in the coming days.
North Korea has been particularly aggressive during the last few months. Pyongyang enhanced its missile test as well as toughening its position against a U.S. presence in the region. North Korea’s UN ambassador also warned the United Nations general assembly of a possible nuclear war.