Mattis, Tillerson Reaffirm That Military Option Underlies Diplomatic Efforts on North Korea

But current affairs website The Diplomat pointed out in a commentary last week that the USA and Japan have traditionally not intercepted any North Korean missiles to mine useful data and avoid “unnecessary escalation”.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Beijing that President Trump had asked military commanders to “develop credible viable military options” and “that’s exactly what we’re doing”. But fears of conflict remain as the USA and South Korea next week begin military drills that the North views as preparation for invasion, and as Washington seeks to stop the North’s progress toward having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the continental United States.

Central to Japan’s plan is the deployment of the U.S. Aegis Ashore, a land-base missile defense system created to intercept missiles on re-entry into the atmosphere.

North Korean state media last week reported plans to launch four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles that will “cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures”.

Separately, Mr Mattis also reaffirmed the US’ ironclad commitment to South Korea in a phone call with newly appointed Defence Minister Song Young Moo yesterday.

The two sides agreed to deal with the threat from Pyongyang by strengthening Japan’s defense structure and capabilities.

A North Korean artillery barrage targeting civilians in Seoul could cause 30,000 casualties “in a short amount of time”, according to a 2012 study by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability.

Though this includes the “nuclear umbrella” with respect to North Korea, it also has other implications which are liable to have are greater impact on Japan’s other neighbors.

On the same day, Mattis spoke with the South Korea’s Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo, with both condemning North Korea’s second intercontinental ballistic missile test on July 28.

They vowed to honor mutual defense agreements and signaled enhanced military co-operation in a bid to stem North Korea’s fast-advancing missile program.

“We will remain vigilant against the North Korean threats through our military preparedness”, he added.

Military analysts warn that a United States pre-emptive strike against the North would be met with immediate retaliation against South Korea. Trump welcomed the delay as “very wise”.

But Mr Bird believes it is time to allow Japan, a major U.S. ally, to develop a nuclear weapons programme of its own to counter North Korea’s.

Tillerson declined to comment on Bannon’s remarks, but said the current approach to North Korea had been “endorsed by the president”. It is reviewed with him periodically in terms of the status of how the approach is working …

Pyongyang approached Tokyo earlier this month in apparent bid to arrange talks with Washington