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US Warns North Korea Any Attack Would Bear Horrendous Consequences

by Hayden Thomas / Feb 04, 2017 05:35 AM EST
Mattis Criticizes N. Korea Ahead of Talks With Japan, S. Korea

A North Korean attack would receive an "effective and overwhelming" response, said the new US Secretary of State for Defense James Mattis in Seoul. The head of the Pentagon visits South Korea on a tour that includes Japan and whose main mission is to ensure two key allies that the new Administration in Washington will maintain the security policy for the region.

The Pyongyang regime "continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and threatening rhetoric and behavior," Mattis said ahead of a meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo, according to Yonhap.

Both Seoul and Tokyo have continued with disquiet the statements Trump since the election campaign, when then - candidate said his hope that Japan and South Korea- the two countries that have more to fear from a hypothetical attack from North Korea- contribute more to pay His own defense. The United States has 47,000 soldiers in Japan and 28,500 in South Korea.

Both capitals have also seen anxiously US withdrawal of TPP, the free trade agreement on both sides of the Pacific that took six years to negotiate and with the Obama administration wanted to strengthen its ties with allies in the region.

"Our intention is to stand side by side with you and face us together," Mattis said at an earlier meeting on Thursday with his arrival in Seoul with South Korean PM Hwang Kyo-ahn. Hwang has assumed the functions of head of state after the ouster of President Park Geun-Hye and waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on the validity of the disqualification. "Our new Administration inherits a very strong relationship, very trusting between the two countries and our commitment is to make it even stronger," said the ex-general.

At that meeting, Hwang called for increased pressure on Pyongyang - North Korea's capital - including increased sanctions. "South Korea and the United States should try to achieve a change in North Korea's strategic calculation by preventing the aggression of the north," Hwang said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

The two countries have also addressed the controversial deployment of THAAD missile shield and committed to maintaining the original timetable, which envisages the installation by the end of 2017. The defensive system, whose deployment in the two countries agreed last year, has generated significant divisions Among the public, while the left opposition, the favorite in the elections to be held this year, had demanded that the final decision corresponded to the next Government.

The THAAD is also opposed by neighbors Russia and China, who consider that such a system can be used against them or trigger an arms race in the region. "The only country that has anything to fear from the THAAD is North Korea if they participate in something that is offensive," he told CNN on arrival at the Osan airbase outside Seoul.

North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un announced in his speech earlier this year that his army is preparing the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of reaching US territory. In response, Trump replied in one of his now famous tweets " will not happen !"

But Trump has not specified what steps it intends to take to prevent it, and North Korea has restarted the reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear plant, according to 38 North, a North Korean specialist program at the US SAIS research center.

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