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Steve Holland — The Sept 27, 2017

US President Donald Trump has warned North Korea any US military option would be “devastating” for Pyongyang, but said the use of force was not what Washington wants.

“We are totally prepared for the second option, not a preferred option,” President Trump said, referring to military force. “But if we take that option, it will be devastating, I can tell you that, devastating for North Korea. That’s called the military option. If we have to take it, we will.”

Despite the increased tension from the verbal sparring between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the US said it had not detected any change in North Korea’s military “posture” reflecting an increased threat.

The assessment by Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, about Pyongyang’s military stance was in contrast to a South Korean lawmaker who said Pyongyang had boosted defences on its east coast.

“While the political space is clearly very charged right now, we haven’t seen a change in the posture of North Korean forces, and we watch that very closely,” General Dunford said.

In terms of a sense of urgency, “North Korea certainly poses the greatest threat today”, he added.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Monday accused Mr Trump of declaring war on the North and threatened that Pyongyang would shoot down US warplanes flying near the peninsula after American bombers flew close to the Korean peninsula last Saturday.

Mr Ri was reacting to Mr Trump’s Twitter comments that Mr Kim and Mr Ri “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats toward the US.

North Korea has been working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the US mainland, which Mr Trump has said he will never allow. General Dunford said Pyongyang would soon have a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile – and it was only a matter of a “very short time”.

During a visit to India, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said diplomatic efforts were continuing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said war on the Korean peninsula would have no winner.

Continues …

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