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Mattis: North Korea Is The ‘Most Urgent And Dangerous Threat’ To Security

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a press briefing on the campaign to defeat ISIS at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Monday that North Korea is the “most urgent and dangerous” threat to world peace and security.

“North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has increased in pace and scope,” Mattis said Monday in his written testimony for the House Committee on Armed Services. “The regime’s nuclear weapons program is a clear and present danger to all.”

“The regime’s provocative actions, manifestly illegal under international law, have not abated despite United Nations’ censure and sanctions,” he further remarked.

North Korea has tested a diverse collection of new and improved missiles this year, including an intermediate-range ballistic missile, medium-range ballistic missile, short-range Scud variant, coastal defense cruise missile, and surface-to-air missile. Pyongyang has warned that a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile is “not too far away.”

“North Korea has been on a relentless path to field a nuclear-armed ICBM that can reach the United States,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford testified during Monday’s hearing.

Last year, the North tested around two dozen missiles and two nuclear weapons, with the reclusive regime claiming that it can now mount a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile. The program is advancing at an accelerated pace.

“We always assume that with a testing program they get better with each test,” Mattis explained last month.

Mattis has previously said that North Korea “is a direct threat to the United States.”

The Trump administration has, to a certain extent, made North Korea a priority.

“If this goes to a military solution, it’s going to be tragic on an unbelievable scale,” Mattis said in May, so the current policy involves economic and diplomatic pressure. The application of military force is still on the table though.

Mattis’ comments Monday were in support of the new administration’s defense budget request.

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