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Mattis: July 4 North Korean Missile Launch Did Not Bring Us Closer To War

July 7, 2017 (EIRNS)—Secretary of Defense James Mattis, during an impromptu press conference at the Pentagon, yesterday, that diplomacy towards North Korean has not failed and that North Korea’s latest missile launch has not moved the world closer to war.

"I do not believe this capability in itself brings us closer to war because the president’s been very clear, and secretary of state’s been very clear that we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts. The military remains ready in accordance with our alliance with Japan, with Korea,"

he said, according to the transcript released by the Pentagon press office.

"We stand ready to provide options if they are necessary. But this is a purely diplomatically led, with economic sanctions and buttress by the military position that we’re taking right now, diplomatically led."

When asked directly if diplomacy had failed, Mattis said "Diplomacy has not failed." Despite what he described as North Korean provocations, "our self-restraint holds, and diplomatic efforts remain underway as we speak." The Washington Post also reported that Pentagon officials this week have sought to underscore that the intercontinental missile threat posed by North Korea is "nascent" and that Pyongyang has a long way to go in terms of understanding the trajectory of the missiles and reentry before they could hit North America.

While Mattis was thus moderating the U.S. response to North Korea’s missile and nuclear activities, a pair of U.S. B-1B bombers were flying over the South China Sea in another U.S. Air Force version of a freedom of navigation operation "asserting the right to treat the region as international territory despite China’s claim to virtually all of the waterway," reports Reuters. This operation comes as the Trump Administration is trying to put more pressure on China regarding North Korea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said there was no problem with freedom of navigation or overflight for the East and South China Seas.

"But China resolutely opposes individual countries using the banner of freedom of navigation and overflight to flaunt military force and harm China’s sovereignty and security,"

he said.