United States Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis was at the Korean Demilitarized Zone on a tour of the border. There he was pointedly reminded of the massive artillery firepower that the North Koreans have massed along the border. This is highly significant due to the threat that this poses to Seoul, South Korea. It means that diplomacy is a paramount goal of containing North Korea and their despot dictator, King Jong Un.
As Written by Phil Stewart for REUTERS:
DEMILITARIZED ZONE, South Korea (Reuters) – As U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis peered into North Korea from a lookout post on Friday, he was given a blunt reminder by his South Korean counterpart of the vast amount of North Korean artillery within range of Seoul.
Above the faint sound of North Korean propaganda music being blasted from across the border, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo suggested that U.S. and South Korean missile defences simply could not stop all of them.
“Defending against this many LRAs (long-range artillery) is infeasible in my opinion,” Song told Mattis, citing a need for strategies to “offensively neutralise” the artillery in the event of a conflict.
Mattis replied: “Understood.”
The brief exchange at the inter-Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – where U.S .President Donald Trump may visit in coming days – spoke volumes about the risks of any miscalculation as tension soars over Pyongyang’s rapidly advancing nuclear weapon and missile programs.
Last week, CIA chief Mike Pompeo said North Korea could be only months away from developing the ability to hit the United States with nuclear weapons, a scenario Trump has vowed to prevent.
U.S. intelligence experts say Pyongyang believes it needs the weapons to ensure its survival and have been sceptical about diplomatic efforts, focussing on sanctions, to get Pyongyang to willingly denuclearise.
But, 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.
Mattis was keen to emphasise efforts to peacefully resolve the crisis, including at the DMZ, as he addressed reporters with his back to the dividing line between North and South.
“Our goal is not war, but rather the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” Mattis said, as North Korean soldiers kept watch.
Mattis said he and Song also made clear their mutual commitment “to a diplomatic solution to address North Korea’s reckless, outlaw behaviour,” when they met this week at ………
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