Pentagon chief accuses North Korea of threatening 'catastrophe'

2017-10-27 21:39
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. (Bullit Marquez, AP)

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. (Bullit Marquez, AP)

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Panmunjom - US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis accused North Korea on Friday of building a nuclear arsenal to "threaten others with catastrophe" and said the Trump administration remains committed to compelling the North to accept complete nuclear disarmament.

Calling the North a threat to global order, Mattis stood inside the Demilitarised Zone that separates the two Koreas and pledged solidarity with the South.

"We stand should to shoulder with you and the Korean people in confronting the threats posed by the Kim Jong Un regime," Mattis said as South Korean Defence Minister Song Young-moo looked on.

Mattis called the North "an oppressive regime that shackles its people, denying their freedom, their welfare and their human dignity in pursuit of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery in order to threaten others with catastrophe."

Making time to visit a US-South Korean military observation post to peer into the North, Mattis was also briefed on conditions along the border created after a truce halted the Korean War in 1953.

Mattis arrived in South Korea earlier on Friday to meet with the nation's top defence officials and American military commanders on the front line in countering North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Mattis is emphasising the Trump administration's push for a diplomatic solution to the problem. But he also has said the US is prepared to take military action if the North does not halt its development of missiles that could strike the entirety of the United States, potentially with a nuclear warhead.

If Trump sticks to his pledge to stop the North from being able to threaten the US with a nuclear attack, something will have to give - either a negotiated tempering of the North's ambitions or a US acceptance of the North as a nuclear power.

Read more on:    south korea  |  us  |  north korea

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