'Massive military response' if North Korea attacks United States, defence chief threatens

US warns North Korea threats 'will be met with massive military response'

Mattis was most likely referring to the U.S. military's roughly 28,000 troops located in South Korea and its massive presence in Japan and in the Pacific.

Defense Secretary James Mattis warned, while speaking to reporters Sunday, that any further threats from North Korea against the US or its allies would be met with "a massive military response".

Mattis said Washington was not looking for the "total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea".

Such a bomb is considered more powerful than any of the five nuclear ones North Korea has already tested. A top South Korean military officer said in a statement.

Asked as he left church services whether he was planning to attack North Korea after a nuclear test that defied his blunt warnings, Trump told reporters, "We'll see".

He later floated the idea that the USA could halt all trade with nations that did not sever economic links with North Korea. It was the sixth nuclear test conducted by the communist nation, but the first to occur since Trump took office. And they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

A foreign ministry spokesman said later that it had launched "stern representations with the person in charge of the North Korean embassy in China".

Trump's threat to halt all economic ties with any country that does business with North Korea amounts to his biggest trade salvo to date and would be almost impossible to pull off without having enormous implications for the USA economy.

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The Trump administration is also considering more sanctions.

The latest test appeared to mark a significant step forward in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's quest for a nuclear missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

Reports of the nuclear test, North Korea's sixth and the first since last September, drew swift condemnation from the global community.

Abe also telephoned with Trump to discuss the test, according to a White House statement issued late on Sunday.

Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation who specializes in North Korea, said letting Pyongyang develop a working nuclear-tipped missile leaves the USA open to a kind of nuclear blackmail.

It has always been accepted that North Korea has intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the mainland of the United States.

Mattis briefed the press regarding his meeting with President Trump, saying that they were exploring "many military options" should North Korea continue with its nuclear threat.

China has supported economic sanctions against North Korea, but has come under criticism for not doing enough to dissuade North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

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