Defense chief: North Korea trying to ‘provoke something’

Defense chief: North Korea trying to ‘provoke something’
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Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump rattles Pentagon with Korea war games decision National Guard soldiers Trump sent to border are shoveling manure, changing flat tires: report Overnight Defense: Trump explains comments on Kim's human rights record | Mattis praises Trump-Kim summit | Afghan war nominee to face Senate panel MORE said Tuesday that North Korea is hoping to "provoke" the global community with its recent ballistic missile tests.

“The leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile,” Mattis said of Pyongyang’s attempted missile launch Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

Mattis mentioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un while traveling to Saudi Arabia during a weeklong tour of the Middle East.

Mattis said the ballistic missile North Korea tested on Sunday was not an intercontinental weapon capable of reaching the U.S.

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The Defense secretary declined to comment on what caused North Korea’s most recent missile test to fail and would not elaborate on what type of missile was tested. 

A U.S. official said over the weekend that the ballistic missile launched from near the North Korean port city of Sinpo "blew up almost immediately."

Reports on Tuesday said that the U.S. military was considering shooting down future North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to Kim.

Mattis has reportedly presented that option to Congress but the military has not yet decided to adopt the policy.

A senior North Korean official said Monday that the U.S. has “created a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any minute.”

“[North Korea] is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.,” said Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations.

North Korea attempted to launch a ballistic missile off its east coast Sunday but failed, according to U.S. and South Korean military officials.

President Trump ordered a Navy strike group led by an aircraft carrier to the western Pacific Ocean last week amid rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

U.S. officials are also considering increasing economic sanctions on Pyongyang amid growing fears about its pursuit of nuclear weapons.