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North Korea's nuke ambitions just a PIPE DREAM, US defence chief taunts
30 October 2017, 01:49 | Rufus Hill
KCNA via AFP Getty Images
"When considering national interest, it's much better not to deploy them", said Song, adding that the allies would have "sufficient means" to respond to a North Korean nuclear attack even without placing tactical nuclear weapons in the South. Mattis said current US strategic assets are already providing nuclear deterrence and that the South Korean government has never approached him with the subject of tactical nuclear weapons.
As he emphasized throughout his weeklong Asia trip, which included stops in Thailand and the Philippines, Mattis said diplomacy remains the preferred way to deal with the North.
"I can not imagine a condition under which the United States would accept North Korea as a nuclear power", he said.
"With that said", he added, "make no mistake - any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response that is effective and overwhelming".
Both defence chiefs condemned the North's nuclear provocations in the wake of Kim's six missile tests in rapid succession. There's a growing concern among the South Korean public that North Korea's expanding nuclear weapons arsenal, which may soon include an intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the USA mainland, would undermine Seoul's long alliance with Washington. President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit the city next month.
USA intelligence experts say Pyongyang believes it needs the nuclear weapons to ensure its survival and have been skeptical about diplomatic efforts, focusing on sanctions, to get Pyongyang to denuclearize.
Moon, after talks with Mattis on Friday, said the "aggressive deployment" of US strategic assets in the region, which have included overflights by USA bombers, had been effective in deterring the North Korean threat.
Mattis suggested, however, that Pyongyang needed to understand that its weapons programs would not strengthen its defenses.
As he has in the past, Mr. Mattis said that the United States did have such options.
He attended top-level military talks in Seoul on Saturday alongside South Korean defence secretary Song Young-moo.
As the DMZ trip highlighted, North Korea's conventional weaponry poses such a risk to South Korea that any attempt to denuclearize the North by force could easily escalate into a devastating conflict.
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