US Air Force scrambles aircraft in response to latest NK missile test

Defense Minister Song Young-moo speaks during a parliamentary session at the National Assembly in Seoul on Sept. 18 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke about keeping pressure on North Korea using economic sanctions imposed through the United Nations, the White House said on Monday.

Previously, Mattis said a war with North Korea would "involve the massive shelling of an ally's capital, which is one of the most densely packed cities on earth", in reference to Seoul.

He also said, without elaboration, that the Trump administration has military options against North Korea that would not put Seoul at risk.

The worldwide community is scrambling to contain an increasingly belligerent North Korea, which in recent weeks has prompted global alarm by conducting its sixth and largest nuclear test and firing long-range missiles over Japan that it says could reach the United States mainland.

North Korea is expected to be a main talking point at the UN General Assembly in NY this week.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a bilateral summit with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni here as tensions were growing in the Northeast Asian region following North Korea's latest and sixth nuclear test on September 3.

The UN's secretary general is scheduled to hold talks with representatives from all the sides to the conflict, including with North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.

On July 4, North Korea conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it claims could reach "anywhere in the world" and conducted a second test on July 28.

Despite the military drills and tough rhetoric, US President Donald Trump has continued to work through diplomatic channels.

"If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed", Haley told CNN. Several Pentagon officials say Mattis was not signaling that tactical nuclear weapons are likely to be placed in South Korea. He answered: "Yes there are, but I will not go into details".

Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself from U.S. forces.

Cheng Xiaohe of Renmin University said in an interview that he initially thought that "the US had almost declared war on North Korea".

"The New York Times: "North Korea's Threat Pushes Japan to Reassess Its Might and Rights - "... officials in Japan who may have considered intercepting the missile faced two immediate constraints: "The country's missile defenses are limited, and the Constitution limits military action only to instances of self-defense".

"The US racket of sanctions and pressure on the DPRK has only hardened the will of the Korean army and people to annihilate the enemies and resulted in making them open up the way to a charge with the sledge-hammer of self-reliance".

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