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Dunford says U.S. military options only if sanctions fail: South Korea

15 August 2017

Tensions between North Korea and the United States surged last week after the isolated country said it would finalize a plan by mid-August to launch four intermediate range missiles toward waters off the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

President Moon Jae-in (right) shakes hands with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, before their meeting at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Monday.

Two leading US national security officials said a military confrontation with North Korea is not imminent, but they indicated the possibility of war still looms.

The Marine Corps general is the latest top USA foreign policy and security official seeking to scale back Trump's rhetoric and play down the possibility for an imminent armed conflict.

"The U.S. military is locked and loaded every day", McMaster said, repeating Trump's threat.

Dunford told reporters he is aiming to "sense what the temperature is in the region" and will discuss military options in the event the "diplomatic and economic pressurization campaign" fails.

"I am confident that the United States, too, would respond to the current situation in a coolheaded and responsible manner in line with our posture". The top priority is the national interest of the Republic of Korea.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing says China has in the past been accused by the global community of not working hard enough at sanctions enforcement, so these actions by North Korea's biggest trading partner are significant.

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Mr Moon also urged the North to "stop all provocations and hostile rhetoric immediately, instead of worsening the situation any further".

Also on Monday, China's commerce ministry issued an order banning a slew of imports from North Korea, in line with additional United Nations sanctions that were announced earlier this month.

He said the 1950-53 Korean war had "cost more than a million lives, left cities in ruins and perpetuated the division of the peninsula".

In a fresh warning, Pyongyang's official media on Monday lashed out at the allies for the upcoming Ulchi Freedom Guardian annual military exercise, saying an "unwanted trivial, accidental spark" could lead to a full-blown nuclear war.

The Combined Forces Command is truly a combined command, Brooks said - USA and South Korean forces are integrated in a manner not seen anywhere else in the world. "But even as we develop those options, we are mindful of the consequences of those options, and that gives us a greater sense of urgency to make sure we are doing everything we absolutely can to support Secretary Tillerson's path".

Any confrontation between the two will inevitably draw in South Korea, which faces thousands of North Korean troops and artillery guns across the heavily militarized border.

"I've seen no intelligence that would indicate that we're in that place today", Pompeo told "Fox News Sunday".

"If the USA goes reckless by wielding a nuclear stick before its rival armed with nukes despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK, it would precipitate its self-destruction", the agency said, using the abbreviation for North Korea's official name. The remarks were provided by the presidential Blue House.

Dunford says U.S. military options only if sanctions fail: South Korea