WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. will keep pressing North Korea through diplomatic means and refused to say the approach hasn’t worked, despite a dangerous new missile launch this week.
Early Wednesday local time, North Korea successfully fired its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile to date, the Hwasong-15, which traveled higher than any previous launch and displayed that the regime is now capable of striking anywhere in the United States.
In response, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the U.S. would put additional sanctions on North Korea and pledged the situation would “be handled.”
During a brief press availability at the Pentagon, as Mattis met with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, Mattis was asked whether the launch meant that a diplomatic approach with North Korea just hasn’t worked.
“I am not willing to say that diplomacy has not worked,” Mattis said. “We will continue to work diplomatically, we will continue to work through the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council and we will be unrelenting in that.”
“At the same time, our diplomats will speak from a position of strength because we do have military options.”
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."