"Massive military response" if N. Korea threatens US: Mattis

North Korea may have conducted sixth nuclear test

The US was "not looking to the total annihilation of a country", but had "many options to do so", Mattis added.

U.S. President Donald Trump had earlier announced that he was going to meet with the national security team over what he described as a "great threat" in a tweet.

In his remarks, Mattis said they had made clear to the president that the United States has the ability to defend itself and its allies - South Korea and Japan - from any attack. Afterward, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that any threat to the USA or its allies would be met with a "massive military response".

Asked as he left church services whether he was planning to attack North Korea after a nuclear test that defied his blunt warnings, Trump told reporters, "We'll see".

The nuclear device tested by North Korea on Sunday had a yield of hundreds of kilotons, meaning it was most likely a hydrogen or thermonuclear bomb, according to expert estimates and North Korea's own statements. A top South Korean military officer said in a statement.

He also appears to show increasing frustration with South Korea for failing to get North Korea to stop the nuclear testing.

"The government confirms that North Korea conducted a nuclear test after examining information from the weather agency and other information", according to Taro Kono, Japan's foreign minister.

Even if that's a possibility, analysts say the United States is in no position right now to wage the kind of military campaign that could bring battlefield success on the Korean Peninsula.

The U.N. Security Council announced that it will have a meeting about the nuclear test tomorrow morning.

Trump also earlier said over social media that the USA was mulling ceasing trade with countries that did business with North Korea, a move that would halt commerce with China and numerous other major trade partners.

Historically, China has agreed to UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea following nuclear tests, but despite sanctions, loopholes remain that allow Pyongyang to finance its weapons programs.

President Trump even warned the United States was considering stopping trade with any nation doing business with North Korea, in an attempt to further pressure the defiant country. Trump said in the first of several tweets about Sunday's test. It was Pyongyang's sixth, and the most powerful nuclear test, which was set to raise tension in the region. The Kim regime asserted that it had the capability to fix the weapon onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. "War is never something the United States wants".

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