Massive response would meet any North Korean threat, US warns

Military response would be ‘effective and overwhelming’, defence secretary says

The United States has warned that any threat from North Korea would be met with “a massive military response” as the nuclear state claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.

Speaking outside the White House following a meeting with President Donald Trump, defence secretary James Mattis said the US would respond to any threat to the country or its allies with a military response that would be “effective and overwhelming”. But he said the US was “not looking for the total annihilation of a country,” though it “had many options to do so”.

Mr Mattis was speaking after Pyongyang announced that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to a long-range missile.

Though the precise nature of the test could not be confirmed, the reverberations from North Korea’s sixth nuclear test were felt as far as China, and were widely seen as the most advanced test by the state to date.



The latest provocation by Kim Jong-un sparked condemnation from the international community, with Russia, South Korea and the European Union all condemning the move. A special session of the UN Security Council is scheduled for Monday.

Asked by reporters as he attended a service for the victims of Hurricane Harvey if the US planned to attack North Korea, Mr Trump responded: “We’ll see.”

Earlier, Mr Trump appeared to criticise both China and South Korea for their approach to the North Korean nuclear threat in a series of tweets on Sunday.

In one tweet he wrote: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” His comments came amid expectations that the US may pull out of a trade deal with the country.

Washington is becoming increasingly frustrated with Beijing’s approach to North Korea, with some officials advocating that China imposes an oil embargo on the rogue state.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent