U.S Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says that North Korea did not react after Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s false missile alert on Saturday warning that the island was under imminent threat of a ballistic missile attack. On Saturday morning, tourists and other residents in the island were surprised to receive mobile phone alerts warning that a missile would soon hit Hawaii. The false alarm triggered panic across the state.
Increasing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have put people on high alert. North Korea has shown that its missile technology has made giant leaps forward. With all these factors, it was not a surprise to see residents of Hawaii scampering for safety in full panic mode.
The false alert was detected by the U.S. Pacific Command. However, it took 38 minutes for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to correct the mistake. John Mattis was quick to note that at the moment there was no indication that the North Korean regime reacted in any way to the false alarm. In addition to this, Mattis confirmed that there was no immediate report indicating that North Korea had denied firing the missile as soon as the false alarms were sent.
The secretary of defense told reporters that the mistake was regrettable and that he was confident that authorities in the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency would rectify their warning systems to ensure that such incident is not repeated again. Mattis was speaking to reporters on board a military vessel heading towards Canada for a diplomatic mission.
The secretary of defense will be participating in a summit of foreign defense ministers aimed at exploring possible military options in case diplomacy fails to deter North Korea and its ambition to develop a nuclear weapon.
Mattis noted that the U.S is still committed to pursuing diplomatic solutions to the crisis in the Korean Peninsula. However, the defense secretary noted that it was important to make it clear that military options were on the table in order to force Kim Jong-un to bulge.
The United Nations Security Council has placed sanctions against North Korea in a bid to slow down its nuclear ambitions. The sanctions have had mixed outcomes but they have done little to dissuade the hermit kingdom from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. There is clearly a need for more action against Kim Jong-un.
According to Jim Mattis, the idea of demonstrating that military options are available would help reinforce ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis. The secretary of defense notes that this will allow western countries to negotiate from a position of advantage. Mattis sees this as an important step that could help break the impasse.
The North Korean regime and the government in South Korea recently reopened a communication hotline for the first time in two years. Many analysts have called this a significant step towards normalizing relations between the two countries. North Korea also sent a team for the Winter Olympics to be staged in South Korea. Jim Mattis termed this a positive indicator but remained cautiously optimistic saying that there was not enough data to make a decision right now.