By Shuhei Kuromi / Yomiuri Shimbun CorrespondentWASHINGTON — If North Korea launches ballistic missiles aimed at waters around Guam, the United States will counter the threat by intercepting them with Aegis destroyers deployed in the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system deployed on the island.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphatically said in a statement released on Wednesday, “The combined allied militaries [including Japan and South Korea] now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.”
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is said to have been considering behind closed doors a military attack on North Korea as a possible option. Some observers consider that concerted air bombings of military facilities using Tomahawk cruise missiles and B-1 strategic bombers is likely a prime option.
However, to implement a full-scale military operation, Washington needs to have units with nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines deployed in the seas surrounding the Korean Peninsula, in addition to the U.S. forces stationed in Japan. The deployment is aimed for not only concerted attacks, but also evacuating U.S. non-combatants including U.S. citizens living in South Korea and families of U.S. military personnel.
An attack on North Korea could trigger a counterattack on South Korea and Japan. It could also result in a massive number of refugees with the collapse of the Kim Jong Un regime. It would also be essential to carefully watch how China reacts as the country sees North Korea as “a buffer zone” with the United States and others.
Under such circumstances, the Trump administration seems to have made no change in its basic strategy of pressuring North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile development through economic sanctions and military pressure, with a U.S. military source saying a military attack would be an exceptional measure.Speech