Nuclear confrontation with North Korea would be "catastrophic": Mattis

A pair of B-1B Lancer bombers

US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said America still hopes to solve the North Korea crisis using diplomacy.

North Korea announced that military leaders are planning to launch four intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles only 25 miles off the coast of Guam, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean. Defense Secretary James Mattis was more circumspect, though, when he was asked about the president's saber rattling. Japan said Thursday it could shoot down missiles for its US ally if North Korea fires them at Guam.

North Korea said on Wednesday it was considering a missile attack on the U.S. island of Guam, which hosts several U.S. military bases.

A number of US allies, including Australia and Japan, have said that they're prepared to stand with Trump and will take military action against North Korea if Jong Un launches an attack against Guam, according to Fox News.

On Thursday, U.S. and Japanese troops began an 18-day live fire exercise on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, which was to include rocket artillery drills and involve 3,500 troops.

"The tragedy of war is well-enough known it doesn't need another characterization beyond the fact that it would be catastrophic".

Foreign-policy experts caution, though, the increasingly bellicose rhetoric from both Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong Un runs the risk that the two countries could stumble into actual conflict. But he says that, until that happens, the U.S.

Speaking to journalists at his New Jersey golf club, the President said that he didn't think his comments had been "tough enough". We obviously reiterate or welcome that commitment to peaceful diplomatic and political solution to the situation.

Furthermore, it should "cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people", he said.

Tension in the region has risen since the reclusive North, which staged two nuclear bomb tests past year and launched two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July in defiance of world powers. "We should also make clear that, if the USA and South Korea carry out military attacks to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political landscape on the Korean Peninsula, China will be determined to take actions to prevent them from doing so".

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