Germany: Chinese pressure makes us more upbeat about North Korea

Jonathan Ernst  Reuters
CIA director Mike Pompeo

Jonathan Ernst Reuters CIA director Mike Pompeo

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Monday if North Korea attacks the USA, it could lead to war.

North Korea's threat to fire into the sea near Guam had prompted Trump to say earlier that the USA military was "locked and loaded" if North Korea acted unwisely.

Speaking at the Pentagon on Monday, Mattis told reporters: "You don't shoot at people in this world unless you want to bear the consequences".

Mattis's comments came after he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said America has "no interest" in regime change in Pyongyang or the accelerated reunification of the two Koreas, and stressed the importance of a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

"I think if they fire at the United States, it could escalate into war very quickly, yes".

Trump warned North Korea last week it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States, prompting North Korea to say it was considering plans to fire missiles toward Guam.

"The U.S. should stop at once arrogant provocations against the DPRK and unilateral demands and not provoke it any longer", the North Korean leader told his missile unit, according to a report from the state-run Korean Central News Agency published Tuesday.

China urges Trump to avoid 'trade war'
Still, Chinese leaders oppose blocking all trade with the impoverished North, which they argue might cause widespread hunger. Trump also stressed the importance of maintaining close contacts on major issues and strengthening exchanges.

But the celebrations also serve to underline that, since 1953, the country has been split into North and South because of the civil war started by the North, a reality much lamented in the South.

The passing of the deadline without a missile launch could ease tensions that have been ratcheted up as President Trump and North Korea have traded threats.

China, meanwhile, signaled a potentially important break with North Korea as part of global sanctions. Other nuclear-armed regimes have similarly engaged in "unspeakable brutality" against their own people and posed direct threats to the USA, but they have refrained from using nuclear weapons against the US and its allies because they believed that they would invite their own destruction if they did so.

CNN is reporting that a senior U.S. defense official has told them that spy satellites have observed a mobile missile launcher capable of launching an intermediate range ballistic missile being moved in a way that leads the United States military to believe preparations are being made for a possible intermediate ballistic launch.

China has repeatedly called for all sides to exercise restraint and remain calm, and while it has signed up for tough United Nations sanctions on North Korea, it says the key to a resolution lies in Washington and Pyongyang talking to each other, rather than expecting China to do all the work. Remaining isolated presaged a dark future for the North, he said.

But North Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim had delayed the decision while he waited to see what the United States did next.

"Any second Korean War would have no choice but to spread into a nuclear war", it said in a commentary. The timing of the announcement was a response to Mr Trump's plans to kick off a probe into China's alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property, according to people with knowledge of the Chinese leadership's thinking.

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