Mattis: War with North Korea would be 'catastrophic'

U.S. Defense Secretary says Washington prefers diplomacy over war, but is ready to deal with North Korea threat.

Elad Benari ,

James Mattis
James Mattis

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday warned that a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic” and Washington prefers diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis.

At the same time, he also stressed that the U.S. is ready to counter the threat from North Korea.

"The American effort is diplomatically led, it has diplomatic traction, it is gaining diplomatic results and I want to stay right there right now," Mattis said at an event in California, according to the AFP news agency.

"The tragedy of war is well-enough known it doesn't need another characterization beyond the fact that it would be catastrophic," he added.

Mattis also stressed, "My responsibility is to have military options if needed. We are ready."

Asked what options the U.S. has ready, Mattis would only reply, "I'm not going to tell the enemy what we're going to do."

His comments came hours after U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down on his warnings to North Korea, saying the isolated country "should be very, very nervous. Because things will happen to them like they never thought possible."

Earlier this week, Trump warned North Korea it would face "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continued to threaten the United States with its missile and nuclear programs.

North Korea was unfazed by Trump’s warning, and responded by threatening a missile attack on Guam, a tiny U.S. territory in the Pacific.

Trump on Thursday stressed "there are no mixed messages" and added that maybe his earlier warning "wasn't tough enough."