Stoltenberg: NATO Within North Korea Ballistic Missile Range

NATO allies are now within North Korean missile range according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The NATO chief also called North Korea a “global threat.”

“It is really dangerous, it poses a direct threat to countries in this region (including) Japan, but it is also a global threat,” he added.

Russia Today reported Stoltenberg told the Yomiuri Shumbum newspaper that NATO needs to defend itself from North Korean ballistic missile through detterence.

“We recognize that Europe has also entered the [North Korean] missile range, and NATO member states are already in danger,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Stoltenberg told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. “NATO has protected its member countries from the threat of ballistic missiles through deterrence,” but more diplomatic effort is needed to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, he added.

“NATO has the capabilities and the resolve to respond to any threat and to any aggressor,” he made clear in a separate interview with Jiji Press published Sunday, emphasizing that the military alliance does not want war. “No NATO allies and of course NATO do not want war… that would be a disaster.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is scheduled to visit Japan Monday and Tuesday where he meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. Stoltenberg will also visit a Japanese Navy base in Yokosuka before travelling to South Korea.

NATO countries are within reach of North Korean ICBM
NATO countries are within reach of North Korean ICBM

Although NATO is not directly involved in the conflict escalation between the United States and North Korea, the alliance is supporting its member and their allies. In short, NATO is openly supporting Japan, South Korea, and other allies in the region.

“We know and you know that (North Korea’s missile) ranges reach the west coast of the United States and the ranges reach most of Europe,” Stoltenberg said.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang has been vocal about a possible nuclear war and keep stating that its nuclear program is for self-defense. Last week, Pyongyang stated it was readying a possible atmospheric hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific, a test that was last conducted more than thirty years ago by China.

NATO is concerned that North Korean ICBM can reach its member countries.
NATO is concerned that North Korean ICBM can reach its member countries.
Defense Secretary James Mattis : "Our Goal is Not War" with North Korea
Defense Secretary James Mattis : “Our Goal is Not War” with North Korea

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis sent a warning to Pyongyang in which he stated any attack on the United States or its allies would be met with an overwhelming military response.

“Make no mistake – any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated. And any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a massive military response that is both effective and overwhelming,” Mattis said.

Mattis was also clear on the United States’ stance on a nuclearized North Korea. Mattis said the U.S. will not accept North Korea as a nuclear power. However, Mattis said last week that the United States’ goal was not war.

Could NATO increase joint training in the region?

If North Korea continues with its nuclearization and conducts more tests, I wouldn’t be surprised to see NATO take more actions by sending some troops on joint trainings with Japan and South Korea. For example, Canada sent fifteen soldiers from the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) in South Korea to take part in a military exercise.

“Canada enjoys long-standing relationship with the Republic of Korea dating back to before the Korean War, and Canadian Armed Forces members are proud to contribute to United Nations Command and participate in Exercise ULCHI FREEDOM GUARDIAN,” the DND said.

Canada played an important role during the Korean War and has been constantly sending troops to South Korea for training. Being a founding NATO member, Canada is a prime example of a possible NATO contingent being deployed in the region to enhance its joint training with its allies.

That said, Stoltenberg was clear that peaceful resolutions is the aim.

“We don’t have to use military force – peaceful resolution is the aim,” he said Monday.

The NATO chief will also discuss maritime security involving China in the south and East China Seas, according to a Japan foreign ministry official.