WASHINGTON: The United States warned Sunday it could launch a “massive military response” to threats from North Korea following Pyongyang’s provocative detonation of what it claimed was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.
The comments from defense secretary Jim Mattis came after President Donald Trump called an emergency meeting of his national security advisers to discuss what was an unexpectedly powerful nuclear test said to exceed in magnitude the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.
Mattis told reporters: “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.
“We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea. But as I said, we have many options to do so,” he added.
Trump had earlier denounced the test, tweeting that the time for “appeasement” was over and threatening drastic economic sanctions, including “stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.”
US monitors measured a powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake near the North’s main testing site, felt as far as parts of China, with an aftershock possibly caused by the collapse of a tunnel at the site.
The North hailed its test of what it described as a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile as “a perfect success.”
Pyongyang residents celebrated as a jubilant television newsreader hailed the “unprecedentedly large” blast; she said it had moved the country closer to “the final goal of completing the state nuclear force.”
Neighboring South Korea reacted by conducting a live-fire exercise simulating an attack on the North’s nuclear site, state news agency Yonhap reported, hitting “designated targets in the East Sea” with missiles and F-15K fighter jets.
The South’s military said the range to the simulated targets were equivalent to the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site in its northeastern province. – AFP