Pentagon chief: War with North Korea would be ‘catastrophic’

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisMattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump House Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Is coronavirus the final Trump crisis? MORE warned on Sunday that a war with North Korea would be "catastrophic," and would place United States allies in the region at extreme risk.

"The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on earth, which is the capital of South Korea," Mattis said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"This regime is a threat to the region, to Japan, to South Korea. And in the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russia as well," he added. "But the bottom line is it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat if we're not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means."

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Tensions rose between Washington and Pyongyang last month over the North's rapidly advancing nuclear and missile programs, prompting the U.S. to move a Navy strike group into the west Pacific near the Korean Peninsula. North Korea denounced that maneuver as an act of aggression and threatened a strike on the U.S. if provoked.

The exchange put other countries in the region on high alert, particularly South Korea and Japan, where the U.S. has tens of thousands of troops stationed.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE told Reuters in an interview with Reuters last month that a "major, major conflict" between the U.S. and North Korea was possible, and that while he preferred a diplomatic solution, such a path would be "very difficult."