Pentagon: NK's nuclear program can only be destroyed by ground invasion

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump board Air Force One departing from Andrews Air Force Base Maryland

The Joint Chiefs also fear that Pyongyang would use biological weapons in a conflict, despite worldwide conventions banning their use, as well as chemical weapons - which it has never agreed to abandon.

The Pentagon assessment released late Saturday reached a dire conclusion.

The testimony from Thae Yong Ho, former deputy chief of mission at the North Korean Embassy in London, underscored the high risk in using military force against North Korea.

A high-ranking North Korean defector told a congressional hearing Wednesday that a pre-emptive USA military strike on the country would trigger automatic retaliation, with the North unleashing artillery and short-range missile fire on South Korea.

The admission by North Korea that the sanctions are hurting comes after the United Nations security council imposed a new round of them in early September following North Korea's sixth underground nuclear test.

A t a speech Sunday at Yokota Air Base in Fussa, Japan, Trump rallied the American service members and assured U.S. allies in the region that he had their backs in the face of the rogue regime's threats. "No one - no dictator, no regime, and no nation - should underestimate, ever, American resolve". "They are not only threatening in words, but they are switching over into action to ignite another Korean War", they said, referring to US rhetoric. It was not pleasant for them, was it?' said Trump, who wore a leather bomber jacket as he addressed the troops. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoDems make last-ditch effort to ban wall funds from defense bill Dem wants House to formally recognize Russian election interference Dem rep mocks Trump over aircraft carrier MORE (D-Ariz.) puts in stark terms what a conflict with North Korea could entail, warning that the country could turn to its stockpile of biological and chemical weapons in the event of war.

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Mr Dumont said calculating "even the roughest" potential casualty figures would be extremely hard.

Following the Pentagon report, 14 lawmakers - all Republicans except for one Democrat - joined Lieu and Gallego to urge Trump to quit making "provocative statements" about North Korea's leader that jeopardizes diplomatic efforts and puts U.S. troops at risk.

He also pointed out that Seoul, the South's capital with a population of 25 million, is just 35 miles from the demilitarized zone.

They revealed the ensuing conflict "could result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of deaths in just the first few days of fighting".

The Trump administration has prepared a range of military options while it simultaneously tries to find a diplomatic solution to the problem.

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