During a visit to South Korea, US Defense Secretary James Mattis has issued a stark warning to North Korea that any use of nuclear weapons by the Communist regime will be met with a devastating response.

Mattis is visiting Seoul to reassure the South Korean government of continued American support, despite President Trump’s earlier statements that he will seek more funding from both Seoul and Tokyo for the stationing of US troops in the region. Currently, US troops in South Korea amount to slightly under 30,000, for which Seoul pays U$900 million per year. Mattis, meanwhile, has reaffirmed America’s intention to deploy a US missile defence system in the peninsula later this year.

North Korea’s continued missile testing and its aggressive posture continue to cause alarm and anger in the Asia-Pacific region. A fifth nuclear weapon test in 2016 and claims that it now has a new missile with intercontinental range capable of attacking targets in the United States have contributed to a ratcheting up of tensions, though analysts believe Pyongyang’s claims are more than a little exaggerated.

In a statement after talks with Defence Minister Han Min-Koo in Seoul, Mattis said that, “any attack on the United States, or its allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming.”

US Defense Secretary James Mattis meeting with South Korean National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-Jin last week. (Photo: US DoD)

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