U.S. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper on Tuesday, Aug. 6 commented on North Korea’s rocket test launch and the Turkish-Syrian crisis.

Esper said the United States is monitoring North Korea’s recent missile activity and keeping the door open for diplomatic dialogue and told reporters that Turkey’s unilateral invasion into northern Syria would be “unacceptable.”

Esper said the United States does not want to overreact to North Korea conducting their test firing of missiles into the sea on Wednesday, July 31.


“The key is to keep the door open for diplomacy,” said Esper, who continued, “The president had a good meeting last month or so with President Kim Jong Un. And we’re not going to overreact to these but we monitor him.”

A report from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency released on Thursday, Aug. 1, stated that Kim had personally supervised the multiple test firings of the rocket launcher system that will improve its ability to strike South Korea’s and U.S. military bases in South Korea.

The report, however, differed from South Korean military’s assessment that the recent launches are two short-range ballistic missiles.

“My understanding is they are short-range ballistic missiles,” said Esper who added, “I wouldn’t say we don’t do anything.”

The U.S. defense secretary told reporters during the interview that the United States wanted to monitor these activities very closely. “We make sure we understand what they’re doing. We try to understand why,” said Esper, stating that the United States will be watching Kim closely so they are know what is happening in North Korea.

Meanwhile in the Southeastern Europe and Western Asia region, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday threatened to launch an attack on northeast Syria to push back U.S. allied Syrian Kurdish Forces.

Citing mutual interests in the region, Esper discussed the risk involved in any “unilateral invasion” by Turkey because of a lot of mutual interests in northern Syria.

Esper mentioned the determination to sustain the continued defeat of ISIS in the region.

“We’re obviously holding thousands of fighters, ISIS fighters. And so those are some that some of the things we risk, if there’s a unilateral incursion into northern Syria by the Turks,” explained Esper. If Turkey moves in, it would impact the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said Esper.

Esper said he is hopeful to work out something to address the security concerns in the region and that it just “need to take one day at a time and continue working through the process.”

The U.S. secretary of defense informed reporters that America will endeavor to “prevent unilateral incursions that would upset again these mutual interests that both the United States, Turkey, and the SDF share, with regard to Northern Syria.