With mounting tensions bringing the U.S. closer to possible war with North Korea, a top American general in South Korea stated that the only thing preventing war with the communist country is the United States' "self-restraint."
According to the New York Times, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of American forces in Seoul, said that the 1953 cease-fire that halted the Korean War never put an end to it. Brooks added that a joint U.S.-South Korea missile test — meant as a warning against North Korea, which tested an intercontinental ballistic missile test this week— is proof that the allied forces may change their mind about war at any time.
“Self-restraint, which is a choice, is all that separates armistice and war,” Brooks said. “As this alliance missile live-fire shows, we are able to change our choice when so ordered by our alliance national leaders.
“It would be a grave mistake for anyone to believe anything to the contrary,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Brooks' comments as the U.S. telling North Korea that "it is prepared to go to war."
The North Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday that Kim Jong Un personally oversaw the successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts say has the capability of reaching Alaska. Kim called the missile test "gift" to the "American bastards" on Independence Day.
In response, South Korean President Moon Jae-in requested President Donald Trump approve a Tuesday night joint missile test in an effort to make “more than statements” against North Korea's provocative missile test, according to Moon's office.
South Korea reportedly launched a missile that can travel 185 miles to accomplish "a precision strike at the enemy leadership” in the event of war.
Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said Wednesday that the North Korean missile test spurred the U.S. and Japan into an agreement to take “specific actions to improve our defense systems and our ability to deter North Korea.”
Suga did not clarify what those actions would be, but a Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman said that this will include the purchase of ballistic missile defense systems from the U.S., including the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system currently deployed in South Korea.
North Korean drones have been attempted to gather surveillance of THAAD systems in South Korea. A crashed drone, believed to belong to the North Korean military was recently discovered near the South Korea and North Korea border in a remote forest with aerial photographs of one of the THAAD systems stored inside.
In late July, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the White House is preparing a wider range of strategies, including military options, to respond to increasing tensions in the area.