The Insider

Mattis: North Korea must 'stand down' its pursuit of nukes

August 09, 2017 |
Tony Bertuca

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today North Korea's “actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by” those of the United States and stressed the futility and catastrophic potential of a nuclear conflict or arms race.

“The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack,” Mattis said in a statement. “Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council's unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] poses a threat to global security and stability.”

Mattis said North Korea must “stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” which would only lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.

The defense secretary's statement comes on the heels of a Washington Post report featuring a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment that North Korea has the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead for placement on an intercontinental ballistic missile.Furthermore, Mattis said President Trump, when informed in December of North Korea's growing nuclear capabilities, emphasized the readiness of U.S. nuclear deterrent forces.

“While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth,” Mattis said. 

Trump, meanwhile, has drawn criticism this week for promising North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it continues to threaten the United States.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) told KTAR radio Trump's statement is a “classic” from the president in that it demonstrates his tendency to “overstate things.”“All it's going to do is bring us closer to a serious confrontation. I think this is very, very, very serious,” McCain said. “The great leaders I've seen don't threaten unless they're ready to act, and I'm not sure President Trump is ready to act.”