Mattis: Army must 'stand ready' in case diplomacy with North Korea fails

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After Secretary of Defense James Mattis gave the opening speech for the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting Monday, he was asked about the tense situation between the United States and North Korea. "Neither you nor I can say".

Mattis pointed to the U.N. Security Council's unanimous approval of new sanctions on North Korea last month. Mattis noted the capabilities of businesses he saw there and recommended "open communication with USA industry".

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump tweeted that policies of previous USA administrations on North Korea have failed. Most recently, the USA president said that "only one thing will work" with regard to Pyongyang as "talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn't worked".

Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing.

Suggesting that they might decide that a military strategy is the correct course of action at any time, Mattis hammered on this point - "the U.S. Army must stand ready".

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The defense secretary also offered words of security for US allies, specifically North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "Policy didn't work", Trump tweeted.

War fears have been easing as North Korea has not carried out any public tests for their nuclear weapons programme since September 15.

More than 1.1 million people serve in North Korea's armed forces, representing approximately 5 percent of its total population. During the address, Trump said that the US will "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary and tweeted that leader Kim Jong Un "won't be around much longer".

North Korea has launched more than a dozen missile tests this year, and detonated their most powerful ever H-bomb.

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