Mattis After Nuclear Test: ‘We’re Not Looking to the Total Annihilation of a Country … We Have Many Options to Do So’

By Patrick Goodenough | September 3, 2017 | 5:35pm EDT
A photo posted on an official regime propaganda website on Sunday shows Kim Jong-un purportedly examining a hydrogen bomb. (Photo: Uriminzokkiri)

( – Any threat posed by North Korea to the United States or its allies will be met with a “massive military response,” Defense Secretary James Mattis warned Sunday after a national security briefing on Pyongyang’s sixth – and evidently most powerful yet – nuclear test.

“Any threat to the United States or its territories – including Guam – or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming,” he told reporters outside the White House.

Mattis said Kim Jong-un should listen to the “unified voice” of the U.N. Security Council, whose members unanimously remain committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“Because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea,” he added. “But as I said, we have many options to do so.”

Mattis also underlined that the commitments among the allies – the U.S., South Korea and Japan – were “ironclad.”

His comments followed a “small group” national security meeting with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, after Pyongyang announced what it called the successful test of a hydrogen bomb capable of being mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

A U.S. Geological Survey map shows the location of a 6.3 magnitude tremor detected in north-eastern North Korea around 3:30 p.m. local time Sunday – 11:30 p.m. Saturday eastern U.S. time. (Image: USGS)

It would be the sixth time North Korea has conducted a nuclear test, after previous ones in 2006, 2009, 2013, and two in 2016.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 6.3 magnitude tremor in the area where the regime has carried out previous nuclear tests.

“If this event was an explosion, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center cannot determine its type, whether nuclear or any other possible type,” it said.

North Korea’s earlier nuclear tests generated smaller tremors, ranging from 4.3 in the October 2006 test to 5.3 in the last one, in September last year.

In a series of tweets responding to the latest test, President Trump said that “in addition to other options,” the U.S. was considering stopping all trade with any country that does business with North Korea.

His posts also referred to two of North Korea’s neighbors.

“North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success,” he tweeted.

China condemned the test and pledged to “unswervingly push forward the denuclearization of the peninsula.”

The president also had a message for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has expressed a desire to engage with the Kim regime, arguing that sanctions and pressure have not resolved the long-running standoff over its nuclear and missile programs.

“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!” the president tweeted.

After Sunday’s test, Moon called for the “strongest possible” response.

The U.S. mission to the U.N., together with those of fellow permanent Security Council members Britain and France, temporary member Japan and non-member South Korea, have requested an emergency meeting of the U.N.’s top body on Monday morning.

MRC Store