U.S. Defense Secretary on North Korea: “Most Urgent Threat”

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In his briefing with the media on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis stated that North Korea was now most urgent threat to national security.

“The regime’s nuclear weapons program is a clear and present danger to all, and the regime’s provocative actions, manifestly illegal under international law, have not abated despite United Nations’ censure and sanctions.”

These remarks come after North Korea’s most recent series of missile tests, which showed that North Korea’s ballistic missile program continues to advance despite international condemnation, and igniting concerns that a North Korean missile able to reach the U.S. mainland may soon be a reality. This mostly changes the military calculus for U.S. authorities, as the U.S. itself would not be under threat otherwise; both South Korea and Japan have already had to deal with the possibility of being attacked for much longer.

In response to these tests, the U.S. military recently demonstrated the efficacy of one of its own interceptor missiles by shooting down a test missile.

Despite increased American worries over North Korea, South Korea has expressed more frustrations tied to the U.S. military’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, the planned deployment of which has markedly increased tensions between South Korea and its neighbor, China, with Chinese officials uneasy over THAAD’s potential for espionage.

By T. Kim