Donald Trump’s Defence Secretary says conflict with North Korea would be 'catastrophic'

The East Asian nation has carried out seven missile tests so far this year 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Sunday 28 May 2017 18:59 BST
Mr Mattis recently delivered a graduation speech at West Point
Mr Mattis recently delivered a graduation speech at West Point (AP)

Donald Trump’s Defence Secretary has said that any military conflict with North Korea would be “catastrophic”.

The US has stepped up its threats and sabre-rattling against North Korea since Mr Trump assumed the presidency. At the same time, the East Asian nation has stepped up its programme of missile tests. Reports suggest it has attempted seven tests in 2017, including two recent tests in one week alone.

Former general James Mattis claimed North Korea was a threat to the surrounding region, including Japan, China and Russia. He also claimed it was a direct threat to the US.

“A conflict in North Korea, would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people's lifetimes,” Mr Mattis told CBS News.

“The bottom line is it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat if we’re not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means.”

US General Stewart: It is 'inevitable' North Korea will be capable of hitting US in nuclear attack

He added: “They have been very clear in their rhetoric - we don’t have to wait until they have an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear weapon on it to say that now it’s manifested completely,”

Preparing for North Korea's growing threat, the Pentagon will attempt to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test this week, the network said.

The American interceptor has succeeded in nine of 17 attempts since 1999. The most recent test in June 2014 was a success, but that was only after three failures.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to possess a missile capable of reaching the US, though he has not done so yet.

Last week, the Defence Intelligence Agency said it was “inevitable” that a nuclear weapon launched from North Korea would hit the US mainland.

Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the possibility of an attack was very real after a recent missile test conducted by Pyongyang.

He claimed that if the country and its leader were left on the “current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed”.

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