President Donald Trump said military action was not his first choice for dealing with North Korea Wednesday following a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters when asked about a potential military scenario. “Certainly that’s not a first choice, but we’ll see what happens.”
Trump, who described the discussion with Jinping as a “very, very frank and very strong phone call,” stated that he and his Chinese counterpart were in agreement over North Korea.
“We will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump said. I believe that President Xi agrees with me one hundred percent.”
The phone call follows North Korea’s sixth nuclear test Sunday of a suspected thermonuclear device.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who briefed Trump on military options following the nuclear detonation, likewise threatened military action against Pyongyang.
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“Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies, will be met with a massive military response,” Mattis said. “A response both effective and overwhelming.”
Sunday’s nuclear test, which produced a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, is believed by Chinese scientists to have caused a cave-in at the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site – fueling fears of a possible leak of radiation.
Only hours prior Pyongyang released photographs of the alleged hydrogen bomb, designed for the country’s Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile.
“The H-bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens kiloton to hundreds kiloton, is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack according to strategic goals,” Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the country’s state-run media outlet, said.
According to The Diplomat’s Ankit Panda, U.S. government sources say the intelligence community estimate the nuclear device released 140 kilotons of TNT equivalent.
“[T]he device was either a boosted fission device or, as North Korea claimed in its state media, a two-stage thermonuclear bomb,” Panda writes. “It’s unclear if the device test was the specific device North Korea showed in photographs prior to its test on Sunday.”