Mattis says U.S. wants diplomatic solution for NK

Kenji Kikuchi plays with his son Hideki in Ypao Beach Tumon Guam Monday Aug. 14 2017

Asked if Tillerson would reject the assertion that he shouldn't speak on military tensions surrounding North Korea, Nauert said, "our Secretary has been very clear, as has Secretary Mattis, that our diplomatic and military means are both strong and capable and in the face of the threats that we face against the DPRK or other nations". "It is the job of Secretary Mattis, the secretary of defense, to talk about the military options, and he has done so unequivocally".

The United States and South Korea remain technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. But when asked how he would gauge the threat from North Korea, the Secretary said it is "a threat to world peace and global order" and that the human toll from such an attack would be "catastrophic".

Trump has said he would not allow Pyongyang to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.

Earlier this week, Gen. Kim Rak-Gyom, who heads North Korea's rocket command, said in a statement carried by state media that Pyongyang was "about to take" military action near the US territory of Guam.

U.S. intelligence reports claiming that North Korea has miniaturized a nuclear bomb to fit on top of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States have prompted Trump to threaten massive retaliation if Pyongyang attacks.

Visitors sit on a tour bus in Tumon Guam Monday Aug. 14 2017
Visitors sit on a tour bus in Tumon Guam Monday Aug. 14 2017

This after President Trump tweeted a photo showing U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers in Guam, but there are only six B-1's there right now ready to strike.

The North Korea threat has been a foreign policy priority for the Trump administration since it took office in January, but it has taken center stage since Pyongyang test fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.

But it also said that if the USA and South Korea took a first strike against North Korea, China should intervene.

The issue came to the fore again this week when USA intelligence analysts assessed that North Korea had produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead, according to multiple sources, which would bring the country a significant step closer to being able to fire a nuclear-tipped warhead at the US or its allies. "I don't want to, but if we have to, we'll go to war".

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