More warnings and threats between US, North Korea

10 Aug 2017By maya

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SBS World News Radio: The United States defence secretary has warned North Korea it is risking the destruction of its people, saying it is ''grossly" outmatched in any conflict between the two countries.

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United States defence secretary James Mattis has issued a statement saying North Korea must stop any action that would, as he puts it, "lead to the end of its regime."

General Mattis says North Korea must choose to stop isolating itself and stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

North Korea says it is looking at plans for a pre-emptive strike on the US territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, which could be in place by mid-August.

But speaking as he was about to land in Guam, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has sought to assure people in the territory and back in the United States.

"I think what the President was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea, in language that Kim Jong-un would understand, because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language. I think the President just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime that the US has an unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies, and I think it was important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part."

Mr Trump's message was not normal diplomatic language.

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

Questions remain about what exactly he meant by those comments.

The White House says he spoke with Mr Tillerson for an hour after the warning.

Then, in a series of early-morning tweets, Mr Trump appeared to maintain his stance.

"My first order as president was to renovate and modernise our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before. Hopefully, we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world."

France has called on all concerned parties to act responsibly and de-escalate the situation.

But Britain says it stands "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States in tackling the threat of North Korea.

Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has told the Nine Network the United States is entitled to defend itself.

But she says diplomatic and economic sanctions against North Korea are the best way to ease ongoing tensions.

"The collective strategy has not changed, and that is to apply as much diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea as we can so that North Korea changes its behaviour. Reports that North Korea has acquired the ability to develop a miniaturised nuclear device which could be put on an intercontinental ballistic missile are, of course, deeply unsettling."

But in China, the director of the China National Association of International Studies, Victor Gao, says Donald Trump's rhetoric is damaging.

"Definitely, President Donald Trump's statement calling for war, or unprecedented fire and fury, is not constructive towards the final achievement of the goal of denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula. It actually will damage the global leadership and the global reputation of the United States."

As tensions flare, the mayor of the Japanese city of Nagasaki has issued a stark warning.

He joined dignitaries marking the 72nd anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki, which killed 150,000 people.

Tomihisa Taue points out there are still nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world.

"Tension is mounting when it comes to the international situation, and strong fears are speading that nuclear weapons may be used again in the not-so-distant future."

 

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