The United States Department of Defense is deciding whether to shoot down any future North Korean missile launches, even if the tests do not pose an immediate threat to the US or its allies throughout the region, reports CNN.
The Pentagon’s move comes on the heels of multiple North Korean missile launches that flew directly over the sovereign territory of Japan and eventually crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The United States currently has military assets in the region capable of intercepting Kim’s medium-range rockets.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis slammed the communist nation’s “provocative” actions, saying Kim Jong Un is “intentionally doing provocations that seem to press against the envelope for just how far can they push without going over some kind of a line in their minds that would make them vulnerable.”
American officials have routinely claimed that any North Korean launch that posed a threat to US territory or its allies would be immediately shot down, but the new policy would drastically raise tensions on the Korean peninsula, and could spark a major conflict in the region.
Asked if the Pentagon had plans to use military force to disarm North Korea’s weapons programs, Mattis responded, “Yes there are, but I will not go into details.”