Mattis: North Korea must 'stand down' its pursuit of nukes

U.S. Defence Minister James N. Mattis is seen during a press conference before the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan at the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany

"The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people", Mattis said in a statement.

His warning is the latest in a series of aggressive statements exchanged between Washington and Pyongyang following the U.N.'s adoption of tough sanctions over the weekend.

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday warned North Korea that its people would be destroyed in a nuclear war with the USA - an escalation of rhetoric as other administration officials were trying to downplay the threat.

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

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned North Korea on Wednesday against taking actions that would force the United States to use its military power to destroy them after its regime threatened to attack the USA territory of Guam. "They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen", Trump said.

His statement came just a day after North Korean officials said the regime was considering a strike on the US territory Guam. While the State Department meant to resolve the situation through diplomacy, Mattis suggested that the overwhelming capabilities of the US military and its allies would demolish North Korea.

Trump's language towards North Korea has become increasingly hard-edged since Pyongyang carried out a pair of successful intercontinental ballistic missile tests (ICBM) in July, which put the USA mainland in range for the first time.

Hours after Trump spoke, and apparently in response to military exercises by the United States earlier in the week, Pyongyang warned that it would carry out pre-emptive military strikes against the USA, including the Pacific territory of Guam.

In an early morning tweet, the president boasted about his country's nuclear arsenal. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces.

In separate comments, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried in an interview Wednesday to assuage fears about Trump's rhetoric.

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