With the rest of the world once again seeking a peaceful solution to the escalating North Korean crisis, and having scheduled yet another United Nations Security Council emergency meeting for 10am on Monday to achieve some diplomatic breakthrough…
… US defence secretary Jim Mattis was somewhat less diplomatic moments ago when speaking to reporters in front of the White House, when he warned that “any threat to the US or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response” and said that while the US is “not looking to the total annihilation” of North Korea, it has “many options to do so.”
Mattis also said that President Trump “wanted to be briefed on the many military options available to the US in response to the North Korean provocation”, suggesting that Trump will likely end up picking one.
The full White House statement on the 6th North Korean nuclear test, as delivered by Mattis shortly after 3pm ET, is below:
“Any threat to the US or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming. Kim Jong Un should take heed in the United Nations’ Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses and they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said we have many options to do so.”
It wasn’t only the US which condemned Kim’s actions: earlier on Sunday China also strongly criticized the nuclear test, slamming Pyongyang for ignoring international condemnation of its atomic weapons programme. North Korea “has ignored the international community’s widespread opposition, again carrying out a nuclear test. China’s government expresses resolute opposition and strong condemnation toward this,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
“We strongly urge the DPRK (North Korea) to face the strong will of denuclearisation from the international community, earnestly abide by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, stop taking mistaken actions which worsen the situation and are also not in line with its own interests, and effectively return to the track of solving the problem through dialogue,” it added.
Of course, the paradox here is that Beijing is North Korea’s main diplomatic ally and economic supporter and is seen as playing a crucial role in efforts to get Pyongyang to curb its weapons programme. The test came just hours before Chinese President Xi Jinping was scheduled to open a summit of BRICs nations in southern China.
According to AFP, North Korea’s actions create a potentially embarrassing situation for Xi, who is preparing for a politically sensitive gathering of the ruling Communist Party in October, at which he aims to further consolidate his power.
The leader chose not to address the test during his more than 40-minute address to the assembled leaders of Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil. It was the second time this year that North Korea has timed a weapons test to coincide with a major international political gathering in China.
In May Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile as leaders from 29 nations gathered in Beijing for a summit touting China’s new Silk Road project.
It is almost as if Kim Jong Un is begging for deadly retaliation not only from Washington, but Beijing as well. One of these days, he will surely get his wish.