U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday that any military solution to the North Korea crisis would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale” and Washington was working internationally to find a diplomatic solution.
North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally, calling them legitimate self-defense.
It has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland, and experts say its test on Sunday of a new missile was another important step toward that aim.
“We are going to continue to work the issue,” Mattis told a Pentagon news conference.
“If this goes to a military solution, it’s going to be tragic on an unbelievable scale. So our effort is to work with the U.N., work with China, work with Japan, work with South Korea to try to find a way out of this situation.”
The remarks were one of the clearest indicators yet that President Donald Trump’s administration will seek to exhaust alternatives before turning to military action to force Pyongyang’s hand.