North Korea’s launch of a missile capable of striking parts of the U.S. doesn’t bring the two nations closer to war, Defense Secretary James Mattis said July 6, even as President Donald Trump warned he was considering “pretty severe things” in response.
“I do not believe this capability in itself brings us closer to war,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. He added that U.S. “self-restraint” had prevented conflict and that “diplomatic efforts remain underway.”
His comments appeared aimed at clarifying that the U.S. was not considering military action in response to the missile launch.
The Pentagon is still examining data from the launch July 4 to verify Pyongyang’s claim to have fired a two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile.
A two-stage ICBM would be capable of extending a missile’s range by thousands of miles, stoking fears that the isolated nation is drawing closer to its decades-long goal of being capable of delivering a nuclear strike on the continental United States.
At a news conference July 6 in Warsaw, Poland, Trump declined to provide specifics about potential options under consideration to rein in the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
“I don’t like to talk about what we have planned,” he said. “They are behaving in a very, very dangerous manner.”
The Pentagon was ready to provide the White House with military options for responding to North Korea, if necessary, but for now, the U.S. was focused on a diplomatic response, Mattis said.
“Right now, we are working with allies. We are working with the — the Chinese,” he said. “But obviously, any kind of effort by North Korea to start a war would lead to severe consequences.”
©2017 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.