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U.S. warns North Korea of response if nuclear arms used

U.S. warns North Korea of response if nuclear arms usedU.S. President Donald Trump's defense secretary reassured South Korea of steadfast U.S. support as he warned North Korea of an "effective and overwhelming" response if it chose to use nuclear weapons, Reuters reported on Friday.

"Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at South Korea's defense ministry, at the end of a two-day visit.

Mattis' remarks come amid concern that North Korea could be readying to test a new ballistic missile, in what could be an early challenge for Trump's administration.

North Korea, which regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and its main ally, the United States, conducted more than 20 missile tests last year, as well as two nuclear tests, in defiance of UN resolutions and sanctions.

"North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior," Mattis said.

North Korea's actions have prompted the United States and South Korea to respond by bolstering defenses, including the expected deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), in South Korea later this year.

The two sides reconfirmed that commitment on Friday.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Mattis' visit to Seoul during his first trip abroad as defense secretary sent a clear message of strong U.S. support.

"Faced with a current severe security situation, Secretary Mattis' visit to Korea ... also communicates the strongest warning to North Korea," Han said.

After visiting South Korea, Mattis headed to Japan. He reaffirmed America's commitment to its mutual defense treaty with Japan during a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

"I want to make certain that Article 5 of our mutual defense treaty is understood to be as real to us today as it was a year ago, five years ago - and as it will be a year, and 10 years, from now," Mattis said.

Article 5 obliges the United States to defend territories under Japanese administrative control.

Mattis is due to hold sit-down talks on Saturday with Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, who has repeatedly said Japan is bearing its fair share of the costs for U.S. troops stationed there and has stressed that the alliance is good for both nations.
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