Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said today that the US “will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region — or on us.” He also urged a unified international response to what he characterized as an unhelpful series of tests.
North Korea has been testing short-range missiles throughout the week, and also conducted an underground nuclear weapons test on Monday morning. Reports continue to suggest the nation may also be preparing a test of a long-range ballistic missile.
Exactly what measures the US would, or even could, take are unclear at this point. Army chief of staff General George Casey says the US is prepared to fight a war in the event North Korea launches an attack, but Gates has insisted that nothing they’ve done constitutes a threat, just a provocation.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso have reportedly agreed to the need for a “serious response” to the tests. But North Korea’s enormous level of isolation makes it unclear how much effect sanctions, or anything else, would have.