SEOUL – US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned North Korea on Saturday that any nuclear attack on the territory of his country or its allies would receive a massive military response.
“Make no mistake, any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated,” Mattis said at the end of the 49th annual Security Consultative Meeting between the US and South Korea, the Yonhap news agency reported.
“Any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a massive military response,” Mattis said at the post-meeting press conference held at the Defense Ministry in Seoul.
He added that North Korea had increased its threats and accelerated its weapons programs unnecessarily, warning that in the event of an attack, the North Korean Army would be no match for the combined defense forces of Washington and Seoul.
The Pentagon chief said that the alliance between the US and South Korea was the cornerstone of efforts to counter the destabilizing actions of North Korea, which was reducing its own security through these actions.
The defense secretary was speaking after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Song Young-moo, in which they agreed to expand the rotational deployment of US strategic assets in South Korea, including submarines, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and bombers, Yonhap reported.
But Mattis did not back the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea by the US, citing global non-proliferation efforts.
Mattis and Song had visited the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas on Friday, where the US defense secretary said that Washington’s goal was not waging war with North Korea, but rather the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula though diplomacy.
On Saturday, Mattis said that US had many military options designed to strengthen diplomacy and deterrence.