A PENTAGON chief has warned of "catastrophic" consequences of a war with North Korea as the rogue nation fired another ballistic missile towards Japan.
During an interview with CBS' Face the Nation, Defense Secretary James Mattis said a war 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.
"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."
MISSILE LANDS IN SEA OF JAPAN
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to take "concrete action" with the US after North Korea's latest missile launch, which landed in the Sea of Japan.
The short-range missile flew for six minutes, the US Pacific Command said, adding it was working on a more detailed assessment.
The launch comes in fresh defiance of tough talk from US President Donald Trump, who promised on Friday that the "big problem" of North Korea "will be solved".
Trump's comments came at the G7 summit in a meeting with Prime Minister Abe, which along with South Korea is most immediately threatened by North Korean belligerence.
Abe swiftly condemned Monday's launch and vowed "concrete action" with the US. "We will never tolerate North Korea's continued provocations that ignore repeated warnings by the international community," Abe told reporters.
"As agreed during the G7 summit, the North Korean problem is the international community's top priority. In order to deter North Korea, we will take concrete action with the United States," he said.
In Washington, a National Security Council spokesman said Trump had been briefed on the launch.
South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-In, ordered a meeting of the national security council to assess the launch, which came a day after North Korea said leader Kim Jong-Un had overseen a test of a new anti-aircraft weapons system.
NORTH KOREA STEPS UP AGGRESSION
It comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised the test of a new anti-aircraft weapon system and has ordered its mass production and deployment throughout the country.
The state's news agency KCNA did not report the exact nature of the weapon or the time of the test but said it was organised by the Academy of National Defence Science.
The secretive defence agency is also believed to be developing missiles and nuclear weapons.
The North has been pushing to develop a wide range of weapon systems since early last year at an unprecedented pace including a long-range missile capable of striking the mainland US.
Under its leader's direction, the rogue state has in recent weeks tested its intermediate-range ballistic missile, making some technical advances.
The reclusive state rejects UN and unilateral sanctions by other states against its weapons program as an infringement of its right to self defence and says the program is necessary to counter US aggression.
It last conducted a ballistic missile test a week ago.
The US denies any intention to attack the North.
"Kim Jong Un ... watched the test of a new type of anti-aircraft guided weapon system organised by the Academy of National Defence Science," KCNA said on Sunday.
"This weapon system, whose operation capability has been thoroughly verified, should be mass-produced to deploy all over the country ... so as to completely spoil the enemy's wild dream to command the air, boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty," it said.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.