Mattis warns North Korea of ‘massive military response’ if it threatens US, allies

On Sunday North Korea tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb capable of fitting on an intercontinental ballistic missile. Above, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (second from right) inspects a purported hydrogen bomb in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on September 3, 2017.

(by Julia Manchester, TheHill) – Defense Secretary James Mattis on Sunday issued a stark warning to North Korea, saying the country would be met with a “massive military response” if it threatened the U.S. or its allies.

[North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and has recently threatened to land missiles near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. Secretary Mattis’ warning was in response to the following actions by North Korea:

  • On Sunday: tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb capable of fitting on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
  • Last week: launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific.
  • In July: test launched two long-range ballistic missiles that demonstrated a potential range of 6,000 miles or more that would put many parts of the U.S. mainland within striking distance.]

“Any threat to the United States or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response,” Mattis said in a statement outside of the White House after meeting with President Trump [and top military commanders].

“Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses. And they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely, North Korea,” he continued.

Mattis said the U.S. had “many military options” regarding the Korean peninsula, and that the president wanted to be briefed on all of them.

North Korea’s move is a show of defiance against Washington and the international community.

The White House in a statement released Sunday evening said Trump spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about North Korea’s test and that the two “pledged to continue close cooperation.”

“President Trump reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to defending our homeland, territories, and allies using the full range of diplomatic, conventional, and nuclear capabilities at our disposal,” the White House said.

The UN Security Council unanimously voted last month to impose sanctions on Pyongyang after the country launched a series of ICBMs [Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles]. 

The council announced it would be having an emergency meeting [on Monday] to discuss the developments. [See “Resources” below for video of U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s comments.]

The Defense secretary’s statement matches President Trump’s recent hawkish statements regarding North Korea.

Trump strongly condemned Pyongyang’s actions, saying the U.S. was considering imposing sanctions on [any country doing business with North Korea].

When asked whether the U.S. would attack North Korea, Trump responded “We’ll see.”

The president said last month North Korea would be met with “fire and fury” if it continued to threaten the U.S. and its allies. [Responding to critics who opposed his tough talk, the President said, “It’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries. So if anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough. And we’re backed 100% by our military.”

Last week, President Trump said that talking with North Korea was no longer the answer, after the country launched an ICBM [Intercontinental Ballistic Missile] over Japanese airspace. [He tweeted:]

First published at thehill on September 3rd. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The Hill. Visit the website at thehill .com.


1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this article. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. What provocative actions has North Korea taken over the past few months?

3. What warning did U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis issue to North Korea in statement outside the White House on Sunday?

4. How did the Hill reporter characterize North Korea’s recent actions?

5. What statement did the White House issue Sunday night following President Trump’s phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe?

6. Ask a parent: Do you agree or disagree with the Trump administration’s threat of military retaliation should North Korea attack us or our territories or allies? Please explain your answer.


ON THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL: (read more at the website

  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
  • There are 15 members of the Security Council, consisting of five veto-wielding permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) and ten elected members with two-year terms [these are not eligible for immediate re-election]
  • Security Council members must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time.
  • Each Council member has one vote.
  • Decisions on substantive matters (including imposing sanctions on a country) require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members.
  • Under the UN Charter, all 191 Member States (countries) of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.  While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to Governments, the Council alone has the power to make decisions which Member States are obligated under the Charter to carry out.

About the Defense Department:

  • The Department of Defense (the Pentagon) is the Executive Department of the U.S. government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government concerned directly with national security and the U.S. armed forces.
  • The Department – headed by the Secretary of Defense – has three subordinate military departments: the U.S. Department of the Army, the U.S. Department of the Navy, and the U.S. Department of the Air Force which oversee the U.S. Army,U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Air Force. In addition, four national intelligence services are subordinate to DOD – the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
  • The Secretary of Defense (currently James Mattis) is in the chain of command and exercises command and control, subject only to the orders of the President, over all Department of Defense forces (the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps) for both operational and administrative purposes.
  • Because the Office of Secretary of Defense is vested with legal powers which exceeds those of any commissioned officer, and is second only to the President in the military hierarchy, it has sometimes unofficially been referred to as a de facto ”deputy commander-in-chief.”
  • The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to the Secretary of Defense and the President, and while the Chairman may assist the Secretary and President in their command functions, the Chairman is not in the chain of command.
  • The Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, are generally regarded as the four most important cabinet officials because of the importance of their departments.


Defense Secretary Mattis’ statement on Sunday, September 3rd. (Note: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, USMC, stood with Secretary Mattis):

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s statement at the emergency UN Security Council meeting on Monday, September 4th:

Get Free Answers

Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.