North Korea: Donald Trump condemns nuclear test, James Mattis warns of 'massive military response'

North Korea: Donald Trump condemns nuclear test, James Mattis warns of 'massive military response'

North Korea: Donald Trump condemns nuclear test, James Mattis warns of 'massive military response'

Updated 4 September 2017, 13:20 AEST

North Korea's biggest nuclear test to date draws international condemnation, with Donald Trump labelling the move "hostile and dangerous" and his Defence Secretary warning any threat to the US will be met with a "massive military response".

North Korea's biggest nuclear test to date has drawn international condemnation, with US President Donald Trump labelling the move "hostile and dangerous" and his Defence Secretary warning any threat to the US will be met with a "massive military response".

Key points:

  • World leaders join Donald Trump in condemning North Korea's action
  • US Defence Secretary warns of "effective and overwhelming" response
  • Trump says US considering "stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea"

The explosion of what North Korea said was an advanced hydrogen bomb came just days after it fired a missile over Japan and a few hours after Mr Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by phone about the "escalating" nuclear crisis.

Asked by an ABC America reporter if he would attack North Korea, Mr Trump replied: "We'll see."

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis met with Mr Trump and national security advisers at the White House and had a warning for North Korea.

"Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam or our allies, will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming," he said.

Mr Mattis said Washington was not looking for the "total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea".

"But as I said, we have many options to do so," he said.

Mr Trump, who said after last week's missile launch that talking to Pyongyang "is not the answer", earlier tweeted that the test showed North Korea's "words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States".

"North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success," he tweeted.

Mr Trump said the US was considering "stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea" — which would include China and Russia — in addition to other options.

The United Nations Security Council announced it would meet on Monday morning at the request of the United States, Japan, Britain, France and South Korea, according to a statement.

World leaders have joined Mr Trump in condemning North Korea's actions, albeit in a more cautious tone.

Turnbull says China 'can do more'

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said war on the Korean peninsula could be avoided if the North Korean regime comes to its senses, but argued that would mean applying stronger economic pressure.

He said if China cut off the oil supply to North Korea, it would put enormous pressure on the regime.

"China can do more," he told the ABC's AM program.

Mr Turnbull said Australia is being very closely briefed on options open to the US, and described North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as "evil".

"I don't think there is any doubt about that this is a person that routinely assassinates members of his own family," Mr Turnbull said.

"It is a cruel and evil dictatorship, he starves his own people. This is a shocking, dangerous, provocative, illegal regime that is threatening the peace and security of the region and the world and is advancing nobody's interests other than the maintenance of that one family's dictatorship of North Korea."

'Not just our responsibility': China

China, however, has said it is not its sole responsibility to rein in Pyongyang.

China has lambasted the West and its allies over recent weeks for promoting the "China responsibility theory" for North Korea, and been upset by Seoul and Washington's own military drills that Beijing says have done nothing to cool tensions.

"The United States has to play its own role and should not be blindly putting pressure on China to try and squeeze North Korea," said Ruan Zongze, a former Chinese diplomat now with the China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank affiliated with the Foreign Ministry.

While the seriousness of Sunday's nuclear test means China will likely support tough new action, including possibly cutting off oil supplies, China will make clear others need to step up too, Mr Ruan added.

Over the past week, China's foreign ministry has repeatedly hit back at calls from Western countries and Japan for China to do more to rein in North Korea, saying that pushing for dialogue was an equally integral part of the UN resolutions, and that escalating sanctions alone had been evidently ineffective.

The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, also attacked British and Australian leaders for calling on China to do more, especially Mr Turnbull's suggestion that China should cut off oil supplies to North Korea.

Reuters