Pentagon warns North Korea against conflict initiation

US warns North Korea to avoid destruction of its people

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday warned North Korea to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons or face the end of Pyongyang's regime and "the destruction of its people".

"The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons", Mattis said in a statement.

Trump's "fire and fury" remarks prompted warnings from USA officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with Pyongyang.

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States", Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is spending much of the month on a working vacation.

The latest crisis intensified when reports emerged this week that U.S. intelligence sources believed North Korea had developed the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to fit top of a missile. While the State Department meant to resolve the situation through diplomacy, Mattis suggested that the overwhelming capabilities of the USA military and its allies would demolish North Korea.

Lest anyone think Trump was speaking without the counsel of his top military man, Mattis said Trump is well aware of the depth of the North Korean threat.

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"The DPRK regime's actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and it would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates", he added.

Tension in the region has risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests previous year and two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July. "It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before", Trump wrote.

"If the North Koreans were to strike Guam and kill a lot of Americans it would lead to a war which would destroy North Korea, so my guess is this is bluffing on both sides", he said.

"There's obviously growing concern, and that concern is fueled when the president of the USA deliberately uses language that escalates sort of the war of words and I think, unfortunately, matches the tone and tenor of North Korean officials", Kildee said.

Mattis has warned that North Korea now poses the most urgent threat to United States peace and security, but also that any war with Pyongyang would include "probably the worst kind of fighting in most people's lifetime", citing the threat posed by hundreds of North Korean rocket launchers and artillery pieces aimed at Seoul.

Mattis stressed that his first talks with Trump centered around the US's ability to defend against and deter nuclear missile attacks. Democratic leaders criticised Trump for his statement on North Korea.

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