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Pentagon: N. Korean ballistic missile test will not bring U. S. to brink of war

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North Korea’s groundbreaking test of the country’s first long-range ballistic missile Monday did not push it to closer to the brink of war with the United States, but it did put Pyongyang at risk of suffering “severe consequences” should it continue down the path…
North Korea ’s groundbreaking test of the country’s first long-range ballistic missile Monday did not push it to closer to the brink of war with the United States, but it did put Pyongyang at risk of suffering “severe consequences” should it continue down the path of acquiring a long-range nuclear weapon, Pentagon chief James Mattis said Thursday.
“I do not think this capability, in and of itself, brings us closer to war” with North Korea, Mr. Mattis said of the July 3 test of the Hwangsong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew higher and further than any previous test shots taken by North Korean forces, U. S. and South Korean officials confirmed this week.
His comments come after President Trump said Thursday the U. S. is considering some “pretty severe things” against the North Korean regime in response to Monday’s ballistic missile test. The commander in chief declined to provide specifics on what those measures could entail, during a speech in Warsaw.
Through its recent actions, Pyongyang was “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution” to resolve the country’s flaunting of U. N. mandates barring North Korea from pursuing nuclear weapons technology, U. S. Ambassador to the U. N. Nikki Haley said during an emergency meeting of the security council Wednesday.
“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces, ” Ms. Haley said. “We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction.”
Despite such hawkish rhetoric, Mr. Mattis said both the White House and State Department have made “very clear” the U. S. is pursuing a diplomatic, not military, strategy to address the North Korean threat, he told reporters Thursday.
“The military remains ready, in accordance with our alliance with Japan, with [South] Korea. We stand ready to provide options if necessary, but this is a purely diplomatically-led [effort] … buttressed by the military, ” the Pentagon chief said.
He refused to speculate on what actions the Pentagon may take against North Korea, should U. S.-led diplomatic efforts fail to curb Pyongyang ’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“We will address this one step at a time, ” he said.
Critics of the administration argue the latest North Korean missile launch has shown the administration’s tough rhetoric over Pyongyang ’s nuclear ambitions and White House efforts to cajole China into curbing its client state’s efforts to develop a long-range ballistic arsenal, have done little to stop North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from pressing forward.
Mr. Mattis on Thursday dismissed claims the Trump White House’s strategy thus far to bring Pyongyang ’s ballistic missile program to heel has failed.
When asked whether those severe measures would include military action, Mr. Mattis said: “the military maintains military options for the commander in chief, and we will work in accordance with our whole of government effort” to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
“But obviously, any effort by North Korea to start a war would lead to severe consequences, ” he added.

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