U.S. general in South Korea: Only self-restraint is keeping us from war

The only thing holding the U.S. and South Korea back from renewing their war against North Korea is “self restraint,” the commander of U.S. forces on the Korean peninsula said in a statement released Tuesday, a barrier that he said could be removed at any time.

"Self-restraint, which is a choice, is all that separates armistice and war. As this Alliance missile live fire shows, we are able to change our choice when so ordered by our Alliance national leaders," Gen. Vincent Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command. "It would be a grave mistake for anyone to believe anything to the contrary."

North Korea launched its first ever intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday, a key step in its long-held ambition to join the ranks of the world’s nuclear-armed states. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un vowed on Wednesday that his nation would never surrender its nuclear program, according to an Associated Press report, and urged his nation’s scientists to “frequently send big and small ‘gift packages’ to the Yankees.”

Based on its flight time and the trajectory of Tuesday’s launch, the range of the missile tested Tuesday by North Korea could extend as far as Alaska, putting U.S. shores within reach of the often-belligerent and unpredictable Kim regime.

The U.S., Japan and South Korea all requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, to be held Wednesday, in response to the missile launch. The U.S. and South Korea also engaged in missile drills – the type of joint exercises to which Pyongyang so often objects – in the wake of North Korea’s missile launch.

“Despite North Korea’s repeated provocation, the ROK-U.S. Alliance is maintaining patience and self-restraint,” Gen. Lee Sun-jin, the chairman of South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff, said a statement, referring to his nation by the abbreviation of its official name, the Republic of Korea. “As the combined live fire demonstrated, we may make resolute decisions any time, if the Alliance Commanders in Chief order. Whoever thinks differently is making a serious misjudgment.”

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