Secretary of Defense James Mattis won’t even allow North Korean missiles to touch Guam.
On Monday, former general told reporters that the United States military will destroy any warheads before they even get close to U.S. territory, using missile defense systems.
“We will take it out,” Mattis said of missiles fired at Guam, which North Korea threatened last week. He then added that if the North fires on the U.S., “it could escalate into war.”
However, there was still ambiguity over whether he was specifically referring to missiles launched directly at Guam, or if the same actions would be taken in the event that the North fired missiles toward or near U.S. territory.
“You can’t make all the decisions in advance. There are a host of things going on,” Mattis explained, “I need a certain amount of ambiguity on this because I’m not going to tell them what I’m going to do.”
As President Donald Trump stressed that North Korean threats will be met with “fire and fury like nothing the world has seen before,” North Korea warned that it is considering firing four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles into the waters off Guam in a show of force.
While there has been increased talk of war over the past week, the Trump administration has been steadily downplaying the treat of nuclear war with North Korea, which possesses an intercontinental ballistic missile and the nuclear warheads necessary for a strike on the U.S.
The Trump administration is currently pursuing a diplomatic solution while keeping military options on the back burner. “While diplomacy is our preferred means of changing North Korea’s course of action, it is backed by military options,” the secretary of defense and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
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