Washington: US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly told South Korean Defence Minister that “any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming.”
The White House is allegedly pondering the option of military force or a regime change. During the discussions with leaders from the South Pacific, sources told the Wall Street Journal that White House officials had been highlighting the possible military dimensions of their proposed strategy.
In the meeting, with US Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland, the officials discussed the possibility of a plan “outside the mainstream”.
The change in policy follows the secretive state’s ballistic missile launch and the assassination of Kim Jong UN’s half-brother in Malaysia.
Trump tweeted in January: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won’t happen!”
It follows reports China and Russia are opposed to the US installing a missile defence system in South Korea.
Both nations have agreed to intensify their opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system (THAAD) which the US plans to deploy to the region.
THAAD is an advanced system designed to intercept short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
Many experts fear a direct military conflict would spark all-out warfare, including artillery barrages directed at Seoul, South Korea’s capital.
According to some, it will have the ability to intercept North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
The US and South Korea are currently conducting their annual military exercises. Codenamed “Foal Eagle” and “Key Resolve”, involving 17,000 US troops and state of the art air defence systems.