U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has warned North Korea on Wednesday to “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people”, CNN reported.
The statement comes just one day after President Donald Trump warned that the US could unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang.
“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.”
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.
On Wednesday, Mattis called on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to cooperate with the international community.
“Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK poses a threat to global security and stability,” he said.
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 latest crisis intensified when reports emerged this week that US intelligence sources believed North Korea had developed the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to fit top of a missile. Those reports appeared to prompt Trump’s tirade from Bedminster Tuesday.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said on Tuesday.
“While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed, and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth,” Mattis said.
“The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from attack,” he added.