Mattis: North Korea War Could Escalate Very Quickly

Warns That If North Korean Missile Hits Guam 'It's Game On'

Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned in comments to reports that any war with North Korea would likely escalate very quickly, and that the US is determined to try to shoot down any North Korean missiles fired near US territory.

North Korea has said they’re holding off on an anticipated test to try to fire four missiles into the waters off the coast of Guam. US attempts to shoot such missiles down would be risky, as they would be the first real-life test of missile interceptors with a mixed record even in tests under optimal circumstances.

Mattis appears to be continuing the escalation of rhetoric surrounding the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, while most of the rest of the cabinet is trying to downplay the risk of a full-scale nuclear war breaking out. Mattis insisted that if a single missile touches US soil “it’s game on.”

Mattis also held out the possibility of starting a war even if North Korea shot somewhere kind of close to US soil, saying it was “up to the president, perhaps up to Congress” to decide if the US should attack North Korea.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of