Defense Secretary James Mattis said if the situation in North Korea cannot be solved diplomatically, war with the rogue nation would be “catastrophic.”
"A conflict in North Korea, John, would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people's lifetimes," Mattis told CBS’s “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson in an interview Sunday.
“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,” he added.
Just hours later, North Korea test fired a short-range Scud ballistic missile, which flew for six minutes before falling into the Sea of Japan.
“We cannot tolerate such repeated actions from North Korea, and we have lodged a strong protest against North Korea, criticizing them in the strongest form,” said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
The missile landed within Japan’s exclusive maritime economic zone, FoxNews.com reports.
Mattis said the assumption is that North Korea’s missile technology gets better with each test.
"We consider it a direct threat even today, the North Korean threat," Mattis said. "As far as that specific threat, I don't want to put a timeline on it. At this time, what we know, I'd prefer to keep silent about because we may actually know some things the North Koreans don't even know."