North Korea conducts hydrogen bomb test; U.S. pledges ‘massive’ response if threatened

Seoul, September 3, 2017 — North Korea on Sunday conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, which it said was of an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, prompting the threat of a “massive” military response from the United States if it or its allies were threatened.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis (L) makes a statement outside the West Wing of the White House in response to North Korea’s latest nuclear testing, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford listens, in Washington, U.S., September 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Speaking outside the White House after meeting with President Donald Trump and his national security team, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Trump asked to be briefed on all available military options.

“Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming,” Mattis said.

“We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea,” Mattis said with Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at his side. “But as I said, we have many options to do so.”

Trump earlier in the day refused to rule out military action and threatened to cut off trade with any country doing business with Pyongyang.

Asked while leaving a church service whether the United States would attack North Korea, Trump replied: “We’ll see.”

Early Monday in Seoul, South Korea’s military confirmed it had carried out missile drills in response to the North’s nuclear test.

For a graphic on a nuclear North Korea click tmsnrt.rs/2lE5yjF)

Despite the tough talk, the immediate focus of the international response was expected to be on tougher economic sanctions against Pyongyang.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the nuclear test.

Diplomats have said the council could now consider banning Pyongyang’s textile exports and the country’s national airline, stop supplies of oil to the government and military, prevent North Koreans from working abroad and add top officials to a blacklist to subject them to an asset freeze and travel ban.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday that he would put together a package of new sanctions to potentially cut off all trade with North Korea.

“If countries want to do business with the United States, they obviously will be working with our allies and others to cut off North Korea economically,” Mnuchin told Fox News.

North Korea, which carries out its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions, said on state television that the hydrogen bomb test ordered by leader Kim Jong Un had been a “perfect success.”

The bomb was designed to be mounted on its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, the North said. – Reuters