As Kim Jong-Un (or, “Rocket Man,” as dubbed by the President) continues to develop his nuclear weapons program and test missiles to carry out his genocidal threats, the United States and her allies are coming to a fork in the road regarding the regime’s missile testing.
After several recent tests, including one that sent a missile directly over Japan, the U.S. and allies in the region are now considering shooting down missiles launched by the regime even if the missiles do no pose a direct threat, CNN has learned.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said North Korea is “intentionally doing provocations that seem to press against the envelope for just how far can they push without going over some kind of a line in their minds that would make them vulnerable.”
An official directly familiar with options planning within the Trump administration told CNN the question that now needs to be answered is whether North Korea’s missile program has progressed to the level of being such an inherent threat that the Pentagon would recommend targeting a missile even if its trajectory did not indicate it would hit the US or its allies. The official declined to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the issue.
While the option of shooting down a missile threat has never been in question, the idea of shooting down missiles that do not even pose a direct threat is an option that takes a more forceful approach towards slowing down the North’s nuclear program, and showing that such threats will not be tolerated. This approach would certainly show Kim that the U.S. and her allies are serious about stopping his genocidal ambitions.
However, the con of this approach may be that Kim could use any such action an excuse to actually attack the U.S. or our allies, ostensibly under the guise of “self-defense.” Yet again, if his nuclear program is allowed to continue, it’s quite possible that he will use nuclear weapons against his enemies, given that the regime has promised such an attack for decades. It’s a difficult position to be in.
Members of the administration have repeatedly emphasized that a range of military options are on the table and Mattis said that the US possess military options that would not put Seoul at risk of a North Korean counterattack with the potential to kill tens of thousands of civilians.
Asked at an off-camera briefing at the Pentagon if there are military options that would not put Seoul at “grave risk?” He answered: “Yes there are, but I will not go into details.”
The Pentagon may not use conventional weaponry to attack the regime, but may actually attempt cyber warfare. More ships and planes could also be deployed to the region as well, to show Kim that should he try anything, he would quickly meet his end.
Mattis also confirmed that there was discussion about putting tactical nuclear weapons back on the Korean peninsula as a defensive measure; however, South Korea’s President rejected the idea, stating that he didn’t want to create another nuclear arms race in Asia.
He also confirmed that the situation with the rogue regime remains very tense.
“I believe that there is always the potential for miscalculation by the DPRK leader.”
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