(USA TODAY) - The U.S. military’s most senior officer warned Monday that the United States is ready to use the “full range” of its military capabilities to defend itself and its allies against North Korea.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in South Korea on Sunday. He told his South Korean counterparts Monday that the North’s missiles and nuclear weapons threaten the world, the Associated Press reported.
China, North Korea's most important ally, said Monday that it will stop importing North Korean goods including iron ore, coal and fish from midnight on Sept. 5. as part of U.N. sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile program.
The U.N. Security Council imposed increased sanctions on North Korea worth one-third of its annual $3 billion exports earlier this month.
China's government had previously supported sanctions against the North in word, but continued to prop up the regime of Kim Jong Un.
Top Trump administration officials said Sunday that the U.S. is not on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea, despite President Trump’s recent rhetoric. North Korea has threatened to launch four intermediate-range missiles toward the Pacific island of Guam, a U.S. territory.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster and Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said an attack by North Korea does not appear imminent.
"I think we’re not closer to war than a week ago, but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago," McMaster said on ABC's This Week. "The danger is much greater and is growing every day, with every missile test, with the consideration of possibly a sixth nuclear test. And so what we can no longer do is afford to procrastinate."
McMaster said Trump's statement last week that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" is an effort to maintain peace, not provoke war. The military has made no significant movement of troops or equipment in recent days to prepare to fight North Korea.
Dunford is also meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and will travel to Japan and China.