White House - Vows "Massive Military Response" to North Korea Nuclear Threats.
The Trump administration promised Sunday to answer any nuclear threat with a “massive military response,” just hours after North Korea detonated its most powerful bomb to date.
The nuclear blast, eight times more powerful than the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima during World War II, increased tensions between America and Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said the U.S. does not seek the “total annihilation” of the North, but warned, “We have many options to do so.”
He said America’s response would be “both effective and overwhelming.”
Mattis’ tough talk came in a brief statement to reporters outside the White House, where he met with President Trump and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss North Korea’s defiance.
Earlier, Trump raised the stakes in the escalating crisis, suggesting drastic economic sanctions against China, while criticizing American ally South Korea for not doing more.
Trump has repeatedly pressed China to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, but there seems to be little chance of that happening.
China — a vital U.S. trading partner — has shown no interest in launching military action against its neighbor or inheriting the problems that would come from a collapse of Kim’s rule.
Trump did little to rule out the possibility of an armed strike on Kim’s isolated empire.
As the President left a church near the White House for National Prayer Day, reporters asked if he would order an attack on North Korea.
“We’ll see,” Trump said as he walked away.
In a series of tweets Sunday, he called North Korea “a great threat” and once again urged China and South Korea to intervene.
“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” Trump wrote in one tweet, implying military force might be required.
The U.S. has about 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea and is obliged by treaty to defend it in the event of war.
Trump also spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to the White House.
Abe condemned North Korea’s “continued destabilizing and provocative actions,” the White House said in a statement.
Political reverberations from the North Korean blast prompted the UN Security Council to schedule an emergency meeting for Monday at the request of the U.S., Japan, France, Britain and South Korea.
In addition, South Korea conducted a missile drill simulating an attack on North Korea’s nuclear test site.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. is planning an unprecedented sanctions package to suffocate North Korea’s anemic economy.
Mnuchin said the new sanctions would ban any country from doing business with the United States if it also lends financial support to North Korea.
This would come just weeks after the U.S. pushed the United Nations to pass sanctions that cost North Korea about $1 billion in lost trade.
“There’s a lot we can do to cut them off economically, much more than we’ve done already,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The White House response came after North Korea boasted Sunday about its successful test of what it claimed to be a missile-ready hydrogen bomb.
It is the Communist country’s first nuclear test under Trump and its sixth overall — and it appeared to be the most powerful one yet.
Officials in Seoul detected a 5.7-magnitude quake at the blast site and reported buildings in China and Russia shaking from the impact. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake registered at 6.3.
A South Korean defense official told the country’s Yonhap News Agency the blast was estimated to be eight times more powerful than the 1945 attack on Hiroshima, Japan, according to CNN. Sky News reported it was five times more powerful than the explosion in Nagasaki.
The U.S. bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed at least 130,000 people, and remain the only instances of nuclear bombs being dropped on civilians.
North Korea called the test a “perfect success.” Its boasts about nuclear tests started in 2006, but this year the country steadily ramped up its arsenal.
The North has successfully tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles since July, and a U.S. intelligence report confirmed it could produce miniature nuclear warheads.
Trump and Kim spent August trading threats of mass destruction, none of which led to any action. Kim let a self-imposed deadline for an attack on the U.S. territory of Guam pass without incident. Trump vowed to ravage North Korea with “fire and fury” if provoked.
North Korea continued its threats Sunday, with the state-run Korean Central News Agency warning the “U.S. imperialists” would “not be able to escape from the greatest disaster” if they were to “awkwardly provoke” Kim’s country.