Mattis warns North Korea of 'destruction of its people'

US warns North Korea against action 'that will lead to the end of regime and destruction of its people'

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis warned North Korea Wednesday that it would be "grossly" outmatched in any conflict with the United States, telling Pyongyang to stop considering any action that risked "the destruction of its people".

In a statement, Mattis said the U.S. and its allies would win any arms race or conflict with North Korea.

He added that USA and allied militaries now have "the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth".

Mattis' comments followed North Korea's threats of a missile attack on a United States base on Guam in the Pacific this morning and Donald Trump's unexpected, stark promise to respond with "fire and fury" against the nation last night.

On his way back from a trip to Asia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stopped in Guam for aircraft refueling and responded to Trump's "fire and fury" comment, telling reporters the president was just using language that North Korea understands.

The threat from North Korea's nuclear and missile programs has been a top foreign policy priority for Trump since taking office in January, but the dangers posed by North Korea have taken center stage since the country test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.

The plan would be put into practice at any moment, once Kim Jong Un made a decision, a Korean People's Army spokesman said.

Mattis's tone was at odds with that of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who earlier said he did not believe "there is any imminent threat" to Guam or other USA targets and hoped that diplomatic pressure would prevail in the crisis.

The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Mattis stressed that his first talks with Trump centered around the US's ability to defend against and deter nuclear missile attacks.

The North Korean regime has conducted 12 tests so far this year, with one ICBM test conducted in late July sending a missile 2,300 miles into space and 45 minutes into the air.

"My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before".

"China calls on all sides to uphold the main direction of a political resolution to the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, and avoid any words or actions that may intensify the problem and escalate the situation", the government said in a statement sent to Reuters, repeating its customary stance. Japan hosts around 54,000 U.S. military personnel, the U.S. Department of Defense says, and tens of thousands of Americans work in both countries.

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