The test of North Korea’s most powerful nuclear weapon ever and claims the nation has a hydrogen bomb mounted on a missile have inched the world closer to war.
“War is never something the Unites States wants — we don’t want it now,” Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday. “But our country’s patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory.”
North Korea, Haley added, was “begging for war.”
North Korea set off a nuclear blast Sunday that was 16 times more powerful than previous tests, The New York Times reported. That explosion — far more powerful than the atomic bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II – apparently caused a mountain at the test site to collapse.
It was the rogue country’s sixth nuclear test.
The test came right after North Korea claimed it had a hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), The Guardian reported. An ICBM is theoretically capable of reaching the United States.
“We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea,” U.S. Secretary of Defense and retired General James Mattis told reporters outside the White House. “But as I said, we have many options to do so.”
Mattis added, “We made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, South Korea and Japan, from any attack. And our commitment among the allies is 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.”
Both Mattis and the United Nations Security Council called upon the North Koreans to denuclearize the peninsula.
Asked if he was making plans to attack North Korea, President Trump said Sunday, “We’ll see.”
The U.S. and its allies might not be able to shoot down North Korea’s missiles.
Nonproliferation expert Joshua Pollack wrote in The Guardian that he doubts the anti-missile systems in South Korea would work against an ICBM.
Additionally, the system designed to protect the U.S homeland from ICBMs — the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) — does not work as designed, according to a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.
“It is possible that defenses would only buy some time for the US military and its allies at the start of an immensely destructive war,” Pollack wrote.
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