Pentagon chief says NKorea's nuclear pursuits a 'danger'

Woody Island in the South China Sea

Earlier Saturday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called North Korea's push to acquire a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States and other nations a "clear and present danger".

The UN Security Council voted unanimously to add 15 individuals and four entities linked to North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes to a UN sanctions blacklist, but Chinese opposition blocked tougher new sanctions that the United States was pushing.

Among the main topics on the agenda, was the rising anxiety over China's increasing power and the militarisation of islands within the vital trading route of the South China Sea.

Yet Mattis offers a positive and helpful tone for cooperation and peace in the Asia-Pacific region.

While he admitted that rivalry between China and the USA - the world's two largest economies - was bound to occur, he also said that did not mean conflict was inevitable.

"The United States will continue to adapt and continue to expand its ability to work with others to secure a peaceful, prosperous and free Asia, with respect for all nations upholding global law", Mattis said.

"China is firmly determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights", Hua said, adding that the country's patrol and law-enforcement activities will continue.

"We want to stop this".




In another sign of increased pressure on North Korea, Japan's navy and air force began a three-day military exercise with two USA aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan on Thursday. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told a news conference later that he believed Mattis had effectively stressed the US commitment to allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The North regularly threatens to destroy the United States and says its missile and nuclear programs are needed to counter US aggression.

Adding names to the United Nations blacklist mean a global travel ban and asset freeze, making the listings more symbolic given the isolated nature of official North Korean entities and the sophisticated network of front companies used by Pyongyang to evade current sanctions.

"The US would be well advised to urgently take measures to save the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans in the mainland rather than being concerned about the security of those in South Korea".

US Defence Secretary James Mattis shares a light moment with Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, Thailand's deputy defence minister, before their talks at the 2017 International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday.

The U.S. military this week successfully tested a defense system created to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in midair. Pyongyang had launched several ballistic missiles this year, including one short-range missile on Monday.

The U.S. military said last Tuesday that it "successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target" in a test conducted amid concerns over the North's weapons program.

"We desire productive relationships", Tillerson said after annual discussions with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Sydney.

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