Defense

Mattis Says US Will Avoid War With North Korea ‘As Long As Possible’

REUTERS/US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Korrin Kim/Handout via Reuters

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

The U.S. does not want war with North Korea, contrary to what the rogue regime now claims.

“Trump declared war on our country,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said Monday, referring to the president’s speech at the United Nations, where he warned that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if it attacked the U.S. or its allies.

The White House called North Korea’s assessment “absurd,” explaining that the Trump administration has not declared war on the rogue regime.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Tuesday that the goal is to keep the North Korean crisis “as long as possible in the diplomatic realm.” He stressed that America and its allies and partners need to find a way to “solve this diplomatically.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford explained the U.S. strategy going forward more clearly in his confirmation hearing before Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

“When [Secretary of State Rex Tillerson] came in last year, people told him that there were two things he couldn’t do anything about,” Dunford said. “One was that nuclear weapons were inextricably linked to the survival of the regime in North Korea; they wouldn’t trade away nuclear weapons. The second is that China wouldn’t cooperate. Secretary Tillerson is testing those two assumptions because the alternatives are dire.”

“We have a pressurization campaign to force the North Koreans to denuclearize,” he revealed. “We are also working very closely with the Chinese. Secretary Tillerson has been almost relentless in dealing with the Chinese over the past few months to get them to cooperate.”

“On the positive side, there have been four U.N. resolutions passed this year, and I think the Chinese cooperation, to include the Russian cooperation, in passing those sanctions is unprecedented,” Dunford said. “We are at the phase now where implementation of sanctions is going to determine whether or not we have a peaceful solution.”

China has taken steps in recent months to increase pressure on Pyongyang, but it has been hesitant to really come down hard on the regime.

The military is “supporting Secretary Tillerson’s economic and diplomatic campaign,” Dunford said. The U.S. armed forces are also “making it clear that there is a military option if the campaign fails.” He stressed that the U.S. is making that clear to both North Korea and China, the country’s old ally.

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