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N Korea nuclear weapon use would meet `massive military response`: Mattis

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart Song Young-moo peer into North Korea from Observation Post Ouellette in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea on Friday.

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29th-Oct-2017       
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AFP, Seoul :
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis warned Saturday that North Korea would face a "massive military response" if Pyongyang ever used its nuclear weapons.
"Make no mistake-any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated," he said at a press conference on his trip to Seoul.
"Any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response, effective and overwhelming."
Tensions have been running high on the Korean peninsula, with the North conducting its sixth nuclear test last month and test-launching multiple missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.
The North's ruler Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald Trump have also traded verbal threats of war and personal insults that have sparked global alarm.
Mattis maintained that diplomacy remained a "preferred course of action" to solve the current crisis but stressed, "our diplomats are most effective when backed by credible military force".
He urged Pyongyang to "harbour no illusion", saying the isolated state is militarily "overmatched" by the US and South Korea-a key ally of Washington that hosts 28,500 US troops.
Trump's recent remark that "only one thing will work" with the North fuelled concerns of a potential conflict on the divided peninsula where the 1950-53 Korean War had left millions dead.
But even some Trump advisers say US military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South's capital Seoul-only about 50 kilometres from the border and home to 10 million people.
PTI adds:  India's diplomatic ties with North Korea could act as a "conduit for communications," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said amidst tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over the latter's nuclear missile tests.
India had informed the US that it has "minimal" trade with North Korea, and that there was a small Indian embassy in Pyongyang which should stay there so that some channels of communication remain open.
The issue figured during talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Tillerson during his visit to India on Wednesday.
Answering a question about India's refusal to close its embassy in Pyongyang, Tillerson said: "I think they just indicated they think that office has a value as a conduit for communications".
Asked if he agreed with that assessment, he replied: "It could. It might", according to the transcription of Tillerson's interview in Geneva.
Trade between India and North Korea amounted to USD 130 million in 2016-17 but in the current fiscal year it stands at USD 10.95 million, according to official data.
India banned all trade with North Korea, except food and medicine, from April, in line with UN sanctions over North Korea's nuclear tests.
Tillerson said the US wants to find new ways to partner with India and other like-minded countries in Asia.
"I had a very comprehensive discussion on economic and security links with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, National Security Advisor (Ajit) Doval, and Foreign Affairs Minister (Sushma) Swaraj. It is essential that our two democracies work together to address the challenges facing our people.
"The US has had positive relations with India for 70 years but it is never quite moved to that next level, and I think that is in part due to - on both sides," he added.
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have traded increasingly threatening and personal insults as Pyongyang races towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US.
Tensions have dramatically risen on the Korean peninsula after North Korea, early in September, conducted its biggest nuclear test, which its state-run KCNA news agency described as a hydrogen bomb.
Nuclear-armed North Korea in August fired a ballistic missile over Japan in a major escalation by Pyongyang amid tensions over its nuclear ambitions.

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