Washington, D.C. – During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on military force, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) discussed the serious threat North Korea poses to the world, and asked Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to describe U.S. preparedness measures, including how our nation would respond to an imminent attack. Click here to watch the full dialogue.
Partial transcript of the dialogue below:
Sen. Risch: “North Korea is the biggest issue that we have, if you are going to describe big. … Tell me what happens if somebody knocks on the door and says Mr. President, they have launched. …. There’s no time for an AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force], there’s no time to get lawyers involved. Somebody has to make that decision.”
Sec. Mattis: “The first step, of course would be that our ballistic missile defense forces at sea and in Alaska, California, the various radars would be feeding in and they would do what they are designed to do as we make every effort to take them out. The response, after the immediate defense would of course depend on the President and laying out options, a wide array of options I would tell you. In alliance with our allies as well, because many of them have roles to play and have indicated they would be with us. We would take the action the President directed, and I'm sure the congress would be intimately involved.”
Sen. Risch: “And of course under the scenario I have outlined this is a matter of minutes, -- not days or hours.
Sec. Mattis : “The defenses would go sir, and the President would be woken up. But our commands are - we have rehearsed this routinely. I can leave it at that in this open session.”
Sen. Risch: “Secretary Tillerson, do you have anything to add?”
Sec. Tillerson: “As Secretary Mattis indicated we do have defensive mechanisms in place. There would be some judgment made as to the effectiveness of those and then some judgment made over whether a necessary and proportionate response is required. One of the strengths of the last 70 years has been the deterrence. The fact that no president, Republican or Democrat, has ever for sworn the first strike capability, that has served us for 70 years. So I think any consideration of forgoing that does change I think in a very material way, the strength of that deterrence.”
Sen. Risch: “I agree, Mr. Secretary. It seems to me that the enemy that we are dealing with here in North Korea, that deterrence issue does not seem to be phasing them because either a man would have to be absolutely crazy or incredibly stupid to not know what was going to happen after that.”