US military ready to use 'full range' of capabilities against N Korea: Dunford
Iran Press TV
Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:35PM
The American military is prepared to use the "full range" of its capabilities to defend the United States and its allies from a possible North Korean attack, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford has said.
Dunford made the remarks on Monday during a visit to South Korea where he met senior South Korean military officials and President Moon Jae-in, days after President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with war.
Dunford "stressed that North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs threaten the entire global community," according to US military spokesman Capt. Darryn James.
"He conveyed America's readiness to use the full range of military capabilities to defend our allies and the US homeland," James said.
Trump said last week the US would rain "fire and fury" on North Korea, which some interpreted as threatening the country with a preemptive nuclear attack. A day later, he doubled down on his threat saying a military option against North Korea is "locked and loaded."
In response to Trump's dire warnings, North Korea said it was "carefully examining" a plan to strike the American Pacific territory of Guam with missiles. Guam is about 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from Pyongyang, North Korea's capital.
The North Korean military said it could carry out a preemptive strike if there were signs of an American provocation.
Trump was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for issuing a threat of launching a nuclear strike against North Korea with which the US has been in conflict since the start of the Korean War in 1950.
'There must not be another war on the Korean Peninsula'
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon called Monday for a peaceful solution to the nuclear standoff, saying "there must not be another war on the Korean Peninsula," according to her office.
South Korean president's office spokesman Park Su-hyun told reporters that Dunford assured Moon during the 50-minute meeting at the presidential Blue House in the capital Seoul that US military options being prepared against North Korea would be for when diplomatic and economic sanctions failed.
Moon said South Korea would work to safeguard peace on the Korean Peninsula in cooperation with the United States and other countries, but called on North Korea to refrain from issuing threatening statements.
The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a cycle of military tensions since the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice. No peace deal has been signed, meaning the two Koreas remain technically at war. The US was an ally of South Korea during the war.
The US is against North Korea's nuclear weapons but Pyongyang says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward the country and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea. Thousands of US soldiers are stationed in South Korea and Japan.
The US has imposed sanctions against North Korea but they have failed to dissuade the country from pursuing its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
North Korea continued its tough stance on Monday, saying the United States has mobilized a large number of weapons and troops for annual military drills with South Korea. The drills will begin later this month.
"What matters is that if a second conflict (on the peninsula) erupts, that cannot help but lead to a nuclear war," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary. "We are closely monitoring every move by the United States."
Dunford earlier told correspondents traveling with him that he aims to "sense what the temperature is in the region."
"We're all looking to get out of this situation without a war," he claimed.
Dunford also met with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo on Monday.
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