2017/09/04

What is US's response to North Korea nuclear threat?

North Korea has successfully trialled a hydrogen bomb which could be used in a long-range missile

The move has drawn international condemnation.

Pentagon chief James Mattis says any threat to the US or its allies by North Korea will be met with a "massive military response".

image credit: internet

His comments came after a national security briefing with President Donald Trump about the secretive communist state's latest nuclear test.

North Korea has defied UN sanctions and international pressure by developing nuclear weapons and test missiles that could potentially reach the US.

But speaking to reporters outside the White House, Defence Secretary Mattis said the US had the ability to defend itself and its allies in South Korea and Japan, adding that its commitments were "ironclad".

"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."

However, he said the hope was for denuclearisation, "because we are not looking for the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea".

Meanwhile, President Trump has warned that America may stop trading with any country that does business with North Korea.

What has happened?

The first suggestion that this was to be a far from normal Sunday in the region came when seismologists' equipment started picking up readings of an earth tremor in the area where North Korea has conducted nuclear tests before.

The US Geological Survey put the tremor at 6.3 magnitude.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said there was no doubt this was North Korea's sixth nuclear test, calling it "unforgivable".

Then North Korean state media confirmed this was no earthquake.

It claimed the country had conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, detonating a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded onto a long-range missile.

image credit: internet

Hydrogen bombs are many times more powerful than an atomic bomb. They use fusion - the merging of atoms - to unleash huge amounts of energy, whereas atomic bombs use nuclear fission, or the splitting of atoms.

Analysts say the North's claims should be treated with caution, but that its nuclear capability is clearly advancing.

Officials in China, where the blast was felt as a tremor, said they were carrying out emergency radiation testing along the border with North Korea.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the "reckless" new test represented an "unacceptable further threat to the international community". She called on world leaders to come together to stop North Korea's "destabilising actions".

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