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Mattis: Any North Korea threat to US to be met with 'massive military response'

FILE - In this June 13, 2017 file photo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

In a brief statement from the White House lawn Sunday, Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that the United States is "not looking for the total annihilation of North Korea."

However, the U.S. has "many military options" to do so, Mattis qualified.

The declaration came less than 24 hours after North Korea claimed a "perfect success" for its most powerful nuclear test so far, a further step in the development of weapons capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

The move provoked a strong response from President Donald Trump, who in a series of tweets said the latest provocation from the communist country reinforces the danger facing America.

"Talk of appeasement" is pointless, Trump wrote. "They only understand one thing!"

Mattis seemingly sought to clarify those statements when he recapped the Sunday meeting of the nation's national security team.

"We had a meeting today with the vice president and the president about the latest provocation," Mattis said.

"We have many military options, and the president wanted to be briefed on each of them," he continued.

The United States' "commitment to our allies is iron-clad," Mattis said. "We have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, South Korea and Japan.

"Any threat ... will be met with a massive military response ... both effective and overwhelming," the secretary went on.

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