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Trump threatens to ‘destroy’ North Korea: What are his military options?

Published: Updated:

US President Donald Trump has promised to destroy North Korea if it launches an attack against them or any US ally in South Asia and the Pacific.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” said Trump in an unambiguous message at his first UN General Assembly speech on Tuesday.

The president referred to Kim Jong-un as a “rocket man on a suicide mission.”

Military plan

US Defense Secretary James Mattis said his country has prepared a military plan – reviewed by the president – ensuring that South Korea was not at risk of a military retaliations, which many fear. He did not reveal more details.

Mattis said that the US may take down any missile North Korea fires, even if it does not threaten its allies.

According to sources familiar with the deliberations among US military officials, the current planning is sparked from an American concern over recent successful missile tests (NK17).

Pyongyang was able to develop nuclear warheads carried by ballistic missiles, the sources added.

Fears also surround North Korea’s ability to attack its Southern counterpart with conventional weapons, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties.

It is important to note than the inter-Korean no-man’s land is only 30 km away from both countries, leaving the south at risk.


Military options

Mattis hinted that the US has the ability to employ some military options to exert a form of pressure on North Korea. This includes military maneuvers and hiring the air force.

Conducting a military strike is one consideration. Performing secret cyber attacks to destroy the nuclear program are also a possible option. Sending US warships to the Pacific is also not farfetched.

There were also talks of placing nuclear weapons in South Korea, but this option was reject by both Seoul and Mattis.

A diplomatic option still exists and will include harsh sanctions, said Mattis. It is a favored solution by South Korea to force its Northern counterpart to return to the negotiating table, and stop the missile tests, he added.