President Donald Trump held a meeting with his senior military leaders on Thursday, saying that the United States will protect itself in the face of increased threats from North Korea.
“We cannot allow this dictatorship to threaten our nation or our allies with unimaginable loss of life,” Trump said before the meeting at the White House.
“We will do what we must do to prevent that from happening. And it will be done, if necessary—believe me,” he said.
The president also reiterated his belief that North Korea should be denuclearized.
The North Korean regime has made several claims in recent weeks that its state nuclear program is nearing completion. Early last month it conducted a sixth underground nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council passed a new set of sanctions in response to the nuclear test.
U.S. military leaders believe that the North Korea still faces some technical challenges, but think that it’s only a matter of time before those are resolved.
America’s highest-ranking military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., said on Sept. 26 that it should be assumed that North Korea has the ability to strike the United States with a nuclear-armed missile.
“Frankly, I think we should assume today that North Korea has that capability and has the will to use that capability,” Dunford said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Since coming to power in 2011, dictator Kim Jong Un has significantly ramped up the nuclear program that was originally started by his grandfather. According to the State Department, Kim has conducted as many as 85 missile tests.
President Donald Trump has taken a hard line with North Korea, vowing to defend the United States and its allies. In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly last month Trump said that defensive military action against North Korea could result in the complete destruction of the country.
Last week the President said that talks with North Korea are a waste of time. Trump has been a longtime critic of negotiations with North Korea, saying that 25 years of talks have not resulted in anything other than the regime having been able to develop its nuclear program.
Increased Threats From North Korea
North Korea has stepped up its threats to the United States and its allies in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, North Korean state media threatened to make Japan its main target if a military conflict were to break out with the United States. Just days earlier, it had already threatened the close U.S. ally, which is home to several U.S. military bases, with “nuclear clouds.”
Earlier this week Japan’s defense minister ruled out the posibility of his country shooting down North Korean tests of ballistic missiles. The North Korea has conducted two such tests over Japan in recent months.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told the Financial Times that he thinks “shooting down a ballistic missile could be construed as a military action.”
Other Threats to America
Trump also warned of other threats to America, such as ISIS, Afghanistan, the Iranian regime, and “the revisionist powers that threaten our interests all around the world.”
“It falls on the people in this room to defend the American people from these threats,” Trump said about his military leaders.
He said that he believes that the Iranian regime has not lived up to the spirit of the nuclear agreement it reached with the United States and other world powers in 2015.
“The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed, and chaos across the Middle East. That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” Trump said.
When asked whether he had made a final decision on the deal, Trump said, “you’ll be hearing about Iran very shortly.”
Defense Secretary Mattis said earlier this week that a new U.S. military strategy has been working in Afghanistan.
President Donald Trump outlined his new Afghan strategy on Aug. 21. He announced the United States would not abandon its war in Afghanistan, but would begin fighting with a clear goal to eliminate terrorists.
“Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge,” Trump said at the time.
Trump also said the United States would no longer try to conduct nation-building missions where it tries to install its own form of government in other countries.
“We are not asking others to change their way of life,” he said, “but to pursue common goals that allow our children to live better and safer lives.”
According to Mattis, who recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan, the new strategy is working, and it has won broad support among U.S. coalition allies.
“Violence and progress in Afghanistan continue to coexist, but the uncertainty in the region about the NATO campaign has been replaced by certainty due to the implementation of President Trump’s new South Asia strategy,” Mattis said.