U.S. pledges nuclear defense for Japan, S Korea after N Korean missile launch

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (L), US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se (R) take their seats before a meeting at the World Conference Center February 16, 2017 in Bonn, Germany AFP

BONN —

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday pledged that Washington would use the full range of its arsenal, including nuclear weapons, to defend allies Japan and South Korea against North Korea if needed.

“The United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to its allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan, including the commitment to provide extended deterrence, backed by the full range of its nuclear and conventional defence capabilities,” Tillerson said in a joint statement after meeting the foreign ministers in Bonn.

North Korea has carried out repeated missile launches despite U.N. sanctions and last year conducted two nuclear tests in a bid to develop a weapons system capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

Pyongyang said the latest missile tested on Sunday could carry a nuclear warhead.

Seoul said the rocket travelled some 500 kilometers (300 miles) before it came down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

The joint statement said Tillerson, South Korea’s Yun Byung-Se and Japan’s Fumio Kishida “condemned in the strongest terms” the test which was carried out in “flagrant disregard” for multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The three countries would work together to ensure that further violations would be “met with an even stronger international response,” it said, demanding that Pyongyang abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

Shortly after the missile test, President Donald Trump said North Korea was a “a big, big problem… and we will deal with that very strongly.”

Earlier this month on a trip to Seoul and Tokyo, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned that “any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming.”

The United States has had a major military presence in both Japan and South Korea for decades but its defense commitment also complicates relations with China, North Korea’s main ally.

Washington’s recent decision to install a sophisticated THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea especially angered China which sees it as a potential threat to its own security.

© 2017 AFP

  • 4

    Yubaru

    Washington’s recent decision to install a sophisticated THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea especially angered China which sees it as a potential threat to its own security.

    Well, if China sees the deployment of an anti-missile system as a threat, potential or otherwise, to it's security, then China should do something about the nutt-case neighbor it has and deal with him. Get him out of there, and there is no need to worry about the US deploying or selling this system to SK.

    China sits on the sidelines too much when it comes to NK's games, yet China is the country that will have to deal with the flood of refugees if hostilities ever broke out.

  • 0

    JuliusCaesar

    "U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday pledged that Washington would use the full range of its arsenal."

    This includes the 'Those we shall not speak of weapons' such as the submarines and those things (remote controled mini-space shuttles) NASA launches and orbits. But defending with THADD is a must to protect Tokyo and Fukushima. I agree China is the unkown.

  • 2

    Tokyo-Engr

    Something definitely needs to be done to North Korea. My biggest concern is the sanity of Kim the 3rd. I have no doubt he had his 1/2 brother whacked and I have no doubt if backed into a corner he will do something completely insane.

    His grandfather was an old school Communist who studied in the U.S.S.R. Not sure about his father...but this Kim seems to be just crazy and willing to do anything to hold onto power. And I agree. If China sees the missile defense system to be problematic they need to step up to the plate and help deal with North Korea.

  • 1

    HaiDesu

    To those that mentioned about the China dilemma: China is not doing anything to NK because they see NK as a pawn. They want the USA, Japan, SK, and her allies in the area to see China as the only non-military way to keep NK in check. Kim Jong-un who is a spoiled brat with a million man army think he is playing a board game like Axis and Allies. Thankfully for the free world, NK's military technology is miles behind the USA. BUT if we just ignore NK's aggression, they will catch up enough to do Japan and SK some major damage. I hope history will not repeat itself like the world sitting by and not doing anything about Hitler.

    Unfortunately, I think the only way to be safe from Kim Jong-un is to have him assassinated. I sincerely feel sad for the ordinary everyday person in NK. They live in destitute poverty. Only the NK military and those close to Kim Jong-un are fed a decent meal. You can tell fat boy has never missed a meal. Assassinating fat boy will be a mercy for those NK people that suffer day to day.

    USAF forever!

  • -4

    elephant200

    Was that North Korean missile so horrifying that every launching above the 38th parallel needs America's pampering.

  • 0

    Louis Amsel

    nk can only threat sk, and they would get wiped off the earth if they dare to attempt it and kim the fatty knows it.

    The real value of the Americans commitment is the deterrence against China from acting stupid against its neighbours.

  • -2

    YuriOtani

    Yet for America to hit China or North Korea with nuclear weapons would mean death in Japan. The prevailing winds will bring the nuclear fallout to South Korea and then Japan. Their "protection" will kill millions of Japanese and make large parts of Japan off limits for generations.

  • 2

    Louis Amsel

    The value of nuclear weapons is deterrence, not actually use it. I thought even 5yo knew this already

  • -1

    toshiko

    How much Tillerson want to charge? Japan prefer its business partner China calm down NK

  • -1

    bones

    So Russia launches a missle and not a peep,a Russian plane gets TOO close and it's treated as nothing....guess only NK is a threat.

  • 0

    Illyas

    So Russia launches a missle and not a peep,a Russian plane gets TOO close and it's treated as nothing....guess only NK is a threat.

    Do you really need to be explained why Russia, a member of the UN Security Council, and North Korea, a rogue state that randomly shells it's neighbor are different? You do know that Russian planes and ships have been probing US waters and airspace for 70 years now, right?

  • -1

    bones

    Illyas Oooooooh right Russia is a jolly good friend of the US,how silly of me to think otherwise :-/

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