While the majority of experts believe a military strike against the nation led by Kim Jong-un would have devastating consequences, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis implied that there might be more options on the table for handling the crisis than originally discussed. Mattis hinted at “kinetic” options, though declined to go into detail about what that entails.
As reported by Business Insider, Mattis implied that the Pentagon did have options for responding to the North Korean threat that did not “put Seoul at grave risk.”
When explicitly asked about such military options, Mattis confirmed they existed, but stated, “I will not go into details.”
Attempting to get clarification, a reporter asked Mattis, “Are we talking kinetic options as well?”
Mattis responded, “Yes, I don’t want to go into that.”
Kinetic weapons do involve lethal force, though lack the explosive component traditionally associated with bombs. Often, the damage is done by harnessing the power of kinetic energy, similar to bullets but on a larger scale, by using an object’s mass and velocity to create the force necessary to damage or destroy targets.
With South Korea being well within the range of North Korean artillery, there has been significant concern that any military action on the part of the US could put South Korea, a US ally, in Kim Jong-un’s crosshairs. North Korea is inclined to interpret any military strike, regardless of the scope, as an initial attempt to invade the country or overthrow the government. It is also unlikely they’ll take any assurances that such goals aren’t actually in play, whether provided by the US or other nations.
Additionally, North Korea keeps many of its munitions scatter throughout the country, including in secret locations, making it hard to see a military option that doesn’t result in Pyongyang responding with force.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” during a speech to the United Nations regarding Pyongyang’s reluctance to back down regarding its nuclear program. He also referred to North Korea’s leader as a “rocket man” who “is on a suicide mission for himself.”
Trump said, “It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.”