Mattis warns North Korea of 'destruction of its people'

Mattis warns North Korea of 'destruction of its people'

Mattis warns North Korea of 'destruction of its people'

"The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons", Mattis said in a written statement, adding that the "regime's actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates".

"We always maintain a high state of readiness and have the capabilities to counter any threat, to include those from North Korea", Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, told Business Insider.

With his "fire and fury" warning, Trump was trying to speak in a way that would resonate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Tillerson said.

The latest crisis intensified when reports emerged this week that USA intelligence sources believed North Korea had developed the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to fit top of a missile.

Mattis said the U.S.is committed to a diplomatic resolution to the conflict but "the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth".

Mattis has consistently said that he prefers to resolve issues over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs through diplomacy - noting military action could yield catastrophic consequences.

North Korea's actions drew a punishing response from several of the world's major countries. "It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before", Trump wrote.

Guam hosts strategic U.S. military installations - including both a naval and an air force base - and is more than 3,400km from North Korea. Before Trump's tweets on the nuclear arsenal, Tillerson arrived in Guam on a previously scheduled visit after telling reporters he did not believe there was an imminent threat from North Korea and "Americans should sleep well at night". Tension in the region has risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests a year ago and two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July. The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday.

The warning followed Trump's tweets earlier in the day that the US nuclear arsenal is "now far stronger and more powerful than ever before".

Robert Kelly, professor of political science at Pusan National University, told Al Jazeera that both North Korea and Trump were nearly certainly exaggerating in their respective rhetoric, as a conflict would be disastrous - and that Trump was likely stepping up the rhetoric to pressure China into taking action to curb North Korea's behaviour.

North Korea has responded to Trump's comments with its own tough rhetoric.

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