Mattis warns North Korea of 'overwhelming' response if nuclear weapons used

Earlier Friday in South Korea, Mattis said any nuclear attack by North Korea on the USA or any of its allies would be met with an "effective and overwhelming" response.

-South Korea alliance could reasonably be expected to win a war on the Korean peninsula, which would have massive political repercussions throughout the region, including China.

According to Reuters, North Korea has also apparently restarted operation of a reactor at its main Yongbyon nuclear facility, which produces plutonium to be used for the country's nuclear weapons program.

This, after a presidential campaign in which Trump insisted South Korea and Japan needed to pay more for their own defense, that both countries should have nuclear weapons (neither South Korea nor Japan wants to) and that he would be willing to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong-un (neither South Korea nor Japan supports that, either).

North Korea has pressed on with its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of worldwide sanctions and condemnation.

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US Defence Secretary James Mattis has started his first trip overseas by reassuring a key Asian ally of the United States' continued support.

The US military has a permanent base in South Korea and the two countries conduct regular military drills that the North has called provocations.

Russia's ambassador to South Korea warned Moscow would take measures if Seoul chooses to go ahead and deploy the USA missile defense system THAAD, according to a South Korean newspaper.

Mattis kicked off his trip to South Korea and Japan on Thursday, with a meeting with Seoul's acting president, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reassured Japanese leaders on Friday that US President Donald Trump is fully committed to defending Japan as a treaty partner.

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Former US officials and other experts have said the United States essentially has two options when it comes to trying to curb North Korea's fast-expanding nuclear and missile programmes - negotiate or take military action.

The defense system is created to protect South Korea and Japan from a North Korean missile strike, a possibility now more risky given North Korea's nuclear weapons breakthroughs.

"A THAAD deployment may have a unsafe impact on the situation on the peninsula.We regard it as part of the USA global missile defense program, which is stationed along the Russian borders and therefore poses a threat to our security", Timonin said.

But China has strongly opposed the move amid concern that the system's radar could spy on Chinese territory and undermine its security interests.

It came one day after Mattis reaffirmed the longstanding U.S. adherence to a defence treaty with South Korea, another firm USA ally in Asia, during his meeting with top officials in Seoul.

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The economy grew 1.9% in the fourth quarter, filling in the picture for 2016 with less than stellar growth of 1.6%. Consumption spending increased to an annual rate of $11.6 trillion, up $71.3 billion from the preceding quarter.


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