U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the threat of a nuclear attack by North Korea is increasing.
In Seoul with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo next to him, Mattis said North Korea is engaging in "outlaw" behavior and pledged to resist any strike.
“North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs,” he said
Mattis emphasized diplomacy is still the U.S.'s preferred way to deal with North Korea, but said, “make no mistake — any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response that is effective and overwhelming.”
Last month, Mattis told reporters that the U.S. has military action options that do not put Seoul at risk, but did not expand on what that could mean.
“Our military options as I mentioned are designed to buttress the diplomats’ efforts to maintain a deterrence stance and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
North Korea has said one reason it needs nuclear weapons is because the U.S. is trying to overthrow the government.
Mattis is on a week-long trip around Asia, which included stops in Thailand and the Philippines, and has now visited South Korea twice since taking office in January.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.
Check out these related Circa stories: