Defense Secretary James Mattis weighed in with his own stern warning to North Korea Wednesday invoking the 'end' of its regime following President Trump's own admonition that Pyongyang's threats would bring 'fire and fury.'
In his first comments since the crisis took a sharp escalation, Mattis, a former Marine general, said: 'The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons,' referring to North Korea.
He continued: 'The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.'
Hours after President Trump brought up the readiness of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, Mattis did his own touting of the military might of the world's reigning superpower.
He said the U.S. had at its disposal 'the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.' His reference to precision was a reminder of the U.S. military's ability unique ability to attempt to decapitate the regime with guided missile strikes aimed at individuals places where they gather should a military conflict ensue.
His own tough talk followed explosive comments by President Trump on Tuesday issued at his New Jersey golf course that North Korea would provoke 'fire and fury' if it continued with its threats.
Defense Secretary James Mattis referenced the 'end' of the North Korean regime in a new Pentagon statement
Mattis commented on the 'readiness' of U.S. nuclear forces – a more staid version of Trump's own statemetns about the awesome power the U.S. could bring to any confrontation.
'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. 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 DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.'
President Donald Trump fired another flare in Kim Jong-Un's direction on Wednesday morning, saying in tweets the United States' nuclear arsenal is 'stronger and more powerful than ever before' and he 'hopefully' won't need to use it.
'My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,' Trump said. 'Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!'
Trump made the show of might on social media after his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, tried to dial down the conflict as he returned to Washington from Southeast Asia on a trip that included a pit stop in Guam.
President Donald Trump fired another flare in Kim Jong-Un's direction on Wednesday morning, saying in tweets the United States' nuclear arsenal is 'stronger and more powerful than ever before' and he 'hopefully' won't need to use it
Tillerson said Trump's 'fire and fury' charge to Kim shouldn't have Americans panicking because North Korea does not pose an 'imminent threat' to the United States.
Pyongyang's volatile dictator has warned that he was 'carefully examining' plans to make 'an enveloping fire' around Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people and a sprawling American military base.
American airmen in Guam have said they are ready to 'fight tonight,' if they have to. Officials on the island have said they've been reassured by the White House that 'America will be defended.'
The US has also released images of supersonic B-1B bombers flying over the Korean peninsula during a military exercise.
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Two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers from Guam's military base participated in a strategic bilaterial mission with South Korea and Japan hours before North Korea threatened to strike Guam. Pictured top left and right are the two B-1B Lancer bombers and bottom left and center are Japan Self-Defense Forces F-2 fighter jets near Kyushu, Japan during the mission
The 10-hour mission from Guam's Andersen Air Force Base (above) took place on Monday and was the first for the aircraft and crews recently deployed from South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base to support U.S. Pacific Command's Continuous Bomber Presence missions
North Korea says the training mission 'proves that the U.S. imperialists are nuclear war maniacs.'
Kim, who boasts that his intercontinental rockets can reach the west coast of America, has warned the US that it will 'pay dearly' for UN sanctions it successfully imposed over the weekend that were backed by China and Russia.
But Tillerson said Wednesday that he does not believe Washington and Pyongyang are on the edge of war.
'Americans should sleep well at night,' Tillerson told reporters as he flew from Malaysia to Guam.
Trump spoke harshly to Kim, a tyrant, 'because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language,' Tillerson contended.
'I think the president just wanted to be clear with the North Korean regime on the U.S. unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies, and I think it was important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part,' he added.
STATEMENT BY DEFENSE SECRETARY MATTIS:
The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. 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. The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.
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. 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. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.
An adviser to the president appeared on Fox & Friends soon after to warn Kim and his government that Trump would not be trifled with.
'He’s saying don’t test America and don’t test Donald J Trump. We are not just the superpower. We were a superpower, we are now a hyper-power,' Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president said. 'Nobody in the world, especially not North Korea comes close to challenging our military capabilities.
'Whether they are conventional, whether they are nuclear or whether they are Special Forces. So the message is very clear: don’t test this White House, Pyongyang,' he stated.
Trump is spending time at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club while the White House undergoes critical updates. He'll relocate to New York early next week then come back to New Jersey for the maintenance's duration.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that President Donald Trump's 'fire and fury' charge to Kim Jong-Un shouldn't have Americans panicking. Tillerson is on his way back to Washington from Asia. He made a pit stop in Guam
A spokeswoman assured reporters on Wednesday that Trump and White House chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly are receiving regular updates on North Korea from the president's national security council. Vice President Mike Pence is making the trek to Bedminster tomorrow, said deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is expected to arrive soon, too.
Walters said Trump's tweet about the arsenal referred to an executive order he signed his first week in office. The January 27 memo said directed the secretary of state to 'initiate a new Nuclear Posture Review to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.'
'How we train is how we fight and the more we interface with our allies, the better prepared we are to fight tonight,' one of the pilots with the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1 said. Pictured above is a B-1B Lancer bombers taking off for the mission
The crews practiced intercept and formation training, which gave them an opportunity to improve their combined capabilities and tactical skills. Above a B-1B Lancer bomber is pictured during the mission
The two bombers (above at take off) flew in the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, the East China Sea, and the Korean peninsula. The U.S. released photos of the mission late Tuesday seemingly in response to North Korea's threat to strike Guam
North Korea said Tuesday that it is 'carefully examining' a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles hours after Trump told the country that additional threats to the U.S. would be met with 'fire and fury.'
A spokesman for the Korean People's Army, in a statement carried by the North's state-run KCNA news agency, said Wednesday the strike plan will be 'put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment' once Kim makes a decision.
Guam, which is roughly 2,128 miles from North Korea, is home to both Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam housing thousands of American service members and their families.
Roughly 28 percent of the island is occupied by the U.S. military. The base houses bomber assurance and deterrence missions, including six B-52s which the air force says provide 'strategic global strike capability [to] deter potential adversaries and provide reassurance to allies' and that they are ready to go.
North Korea has said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the U.S. showed signs of provocation.
Pyongyang said this week that it was ready to give Washington a 'severe lesson' with its strategic nuclear force in response to any U.S. military action.
Despite North Korea's combative language, which was mimicked by Trump, Tillerson said Wednesday, 'Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.'
Tillerson talked to reporters on the way to Guam this morning as he returned to Washington from Malaysia.
North Korea said it is 'carefully examining' a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles. The strike plan will be 'put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment' once leader Kim Jong Un (file above) makes a decision
Threat came hours after President Donald Trump (above on Tuesday) delivered his fiercest warning yet to North Korea Tuesday afternoon
Guam, which is known as the 'Tip of the Spear', is home to thousands of American service members and their families at both Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam
Last night, the US military put out photos of the supersonic B-1B bombers leaving Guam on a ten-hour mission that took them to the Korean Peninsula.
The aircraft flew Monday from Guam's Andersen Air Force Base towards Kyushu, Japan, the East China Sea.
The bomber mission was the first for the aircraft and crews recently deployed from South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base to support U.S. Pacific Command's Continuous Bomber Presence missions, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs stated.
'How we train is how we fight and the more we interface with our allies, the better prepared we are to fight tonight,' one of the pilots with the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1 said.
Lt. Col. Daniel Diehl, 37th EBS, commander said in the release: 'As demonstrated today, our air forces stand combat-ready to deliver airpower when called upon.'
Trump cautioned Kim on Tuesday that additional threats of violence against the U.S. 'will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen' in a dramatic escalation of rhetoric that's put world leaders and U.S. politicians on the edge of their seats.
'He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before,' Trump said in remarks at the top of an unrelated meeting on drug abuse yesterday.
U.S. MILITARY BASES ON GUAM
Guam, which is roughly 2,128 miles from North Korea, is home to both Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam.
The two U.S. military bases house nuclear bombers and other key assets; they both fall under Joint Region Marianas.
Andersen Air Force Base is located on the north end of Guam, approximately 15 miles from the capital Agana. It is in the village of Yigo.
The base houses bomber assurance and deterrence missions, including six B-52s which the air force says provide 'strategic global strike capability [to] deter potential adversaries and provide reassurance to allies'.
Naval Base Guam is located on the southwest side of the island and has four fast-attack nuclear submarines and an expeditionary helicopter squadron.
Roughly 28 percent of the island is occupied by the U.S. military. At least 6,000 U.S. troops are stationed there.
He stopped just short of a firm promise to declare war on Kim's government if the dictatorship continues to talk about 'physical action' to the U.S.
Yet said to reporters, 'North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States.'
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English said Trump's remarks were 'not helpful' given the 'very tense' environment that presently exists.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CBS that Trump has 'basically drawn a red line.'
The Senate Armed Services Committee said war would be 'horrific' but he thinks 'we're headed that way unless the world can stop North Korea.'
'The time for talking is running out.'
Amid heightened tensions in the region, Beijing staged 'large-scale' military exercises with dozens of ships, fighter jets and submarines adjacent to the Korean Peninsula on Monday - just months after moving 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea.
Russia, meanwhile, moved military equipment including helicopters and combat vehicles to its southern frontier with the hermit state earlier this year. Moscow has displayed its own frightening military strength at a war games event in Siberia this week and during a vast Navy Day parade in Vladivostok - about 100 miles from North Korean territory.
Germany this morning urged North Korea and the United States to show 'restraint' in their mounting war of words.
'We are watching the increasing rhetorical escalation regarding the Korean Peninsula with the greatest concern,' foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters. 'That is why we call on all sides to use restraint.'
Schaefer said Berlin was convinced a 'military option' could not be 'the answer in the quest for a nuclear weapon-free Southeast Asia'.
He urged the international community to 'thoroughly implement' the latest round of sanctions against North Korea approved by the United Nations Security Council and backed a call by Tillerson to resume talks with Pyongyang if it halts ballistic missile tests.
'We must all continue our diplomatic efforts - it is the only way to ensure that the threat of the illegal North Korean nuclear weapons programme can be contained,' he said.
Calling the situation on the Korean Peninsula 'complicated and sensitive', China's foreign ministry issued a statement warning that parties involved in the impasse should avoid 'words and actions that escalate the situation'.
The European Union said tensions over North Korea can only be resolved by peaceful means, with foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini's spokeswoman saying the developments are 'of great concern to the EU.'
Trump told Kim that additional threats of violence against the U.S. 'will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen' on Tuesday
Comments from Trump came during a briefing on the opioid crisis on Tuesday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster
Trump sent this tweet on Tuesday morning. That was before North Korea threatened to bomb Guam, escalating tensions
HOW TENSIONS HAVE GROWN IN 12 MONTHS
July 8, 2016: US and South Korea announce plans to deploy an advanced missile defence system -- THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense)
August 3, 2016: North Korea fires a ballistic missile directly into Japan's maritime economic zone for the first time
September 9, 2016: North Korea carries out its fifth nuclear test
March 6, 2017: North fires four ballistic missiles in what it says is an exercise to hit US bases in Japan
March 7, 2017: US begins deploying THAAD missile defence system in South Korea
May 14, 2017: North fires a ballistic missile which flies 700 kilometres before landing in the Sea of Japan. Analysts say it has an imputed range of 4,500 kilometres and brings Guam within reach
June 1, 2017: US aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan carry out drills in the Sea of Japan
July 4, 2017: North Korea test-fires a ballistic missile which flies 930 kilometres before landing in the Sea of Japan. Analysts say it has an imputed range of 6,700 km and brings Alaska within reach. Pyongyang later says it was a 'landmark' test of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
July 28, 2017: Kim Jong-un carries out a second intercontinental rocket launch test in under a month, sending a missile 1,000km before it splashes down in the waters off the Japanese coast.
August 5, 2017: The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposes tough new sanctions on Pyongyang. North Korea responded, saying: 'The day the US dares tease our nation with a nuclear rod and sanctions, the mainland US will be catapulted into an unimaginable sea of fire.'
Trump told the world Tuesday morning that it must be vigilant against North Korea in the face of new threats from the country's young dictator.
'The pressure is starting to show,' Tillerson contended Wednesday. 'I think that's why the rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang is beginning to become louder and more threatening. Whether we've got them backed into a corner or not is difficult to say, but diplomatically, you never like to have someone in a corner without a way for them to get out.'
Kim had warned the United States that it would pay 'pay dearly' for the United Nations sanctions regime it successfully imposed over the weekend and hinted at military action as tensions continued to escalate.
'Physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength,' North Korea's state-run news agency said Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Kim was lashing out at a U.S. push to drain him of the hard currency he needs to develop his nuclear program that Russia and China reluctantly signed on to last weekend.
The sanctions put a hard stop to a third of North Korea's export revenue - a deafening blow to the country's economy.
Trump celebrated the universal participation of Security Council countries in the sanctions with a tweet Tuesday morning that said, 'After many years of failure,countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!'
A Washington Post report later on Tuesday suggested that North Korea had invented a miniaturized warhead that it has the capability of attaching to the intercontinental ballistic missiles its been testing.
According to the report, US officials estimate that Kim now has 60 nuclear weapons in his possession.
By comparison, the US is estimated to have more than 6,800 in its stockpile, and Russia is thought to have 7,000.
The development brings the country dangerously close to its goal of creating of a nuclear weapon that can hit targets in the U.S.
Alaska, Hawaii, California and Guam would be at an especially high risk if Kim's scientists finish the weapons and North Korea decides to use them.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said on Tuesday that he is seriously worried about a possible North Korean missile strike on his state as well as the rest of the United States.
'There's concern, but there's also pride,' Sullivan said on Fox News's 'The Story' Tuesday. 'Alaska is the cornerstone of our nation's missile defense.'
He added that Alaska's missile defense battalion 'is literally protecting the country.'
'The Alaska guard unit there calls themselves the 300, protecting the 300 million,' Sullivan said. 'So that's what they're doing now, protecting us.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, arrives at a military base in Subang, Malaysia on Tuesday. He's on his way back to Washington and is making a pit stop in Guam
Shortly after Trump's Tuesday morning message, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared on Fox & Friends to deliver tough talk to North Korea and take a victory lap on sanctions.
'The United States will respond accordingly, and I think the international community will respond accordingly,' she said of the dangerous actions that Kim could take in response to the punishing actions.
It's up to North Korean leader to decide whether his response is, 'OK the international community is telling me to stop or he is going to have, you know, a temper tantrum,' she'd said.
Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy worried that Kim is rejecting the international mandate. 'It sounds like, we are getting closer to a shootin' war,' he told Haley.
'But we don't run scared,' Haley asserted. 'This had to happen, we had to go after his hard currency, we had to stop it.'
'How he responds? He's now going to have to think what's the end game? Is he really going to come after the United States knowing what the United States can do back? He's gotta make that calculation,' the high-ranking U.S. diplomat assessed.
A Washington Post report earlier in the day on Tuesday suggested that North Korea had invented a miniaturized warhead that it has the capability of attaching to the intercontinental ballistic missiles its been testing.
Trump stopped just short of a firm promise to declare war on Kim's government if the dictatorship continues to talk about 'physical action' to the U.S. during the meeting in New Jerseyon Tuesday with Kellyanne Conway (left), HHS Secretary Tom Price, (second left), Melania Trump (second right) and the National Drug Control Policy Center's Richard Baum (right)
Former President Barack Obama's aide Dan Pfeiffer went after Trump's warning to North Korea on Tuesday. Pfeiffer tweeted, 'Don't gloss over the fact that Trump threatened what can only be interpreted as a nuclear attack on North Korea if Kim Jong Un taunts him.'
On Monday, North Korea promised to 'teach the US a severe lesson' if it puts its military might to the test on the Korean Peninsula.
'We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table,' North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said, effectively declining to engage in talks about the nuclear program.
State-run KCNA news agency meanwhile claimed that North Korea 'will make the US pay dearly for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country.'
KCNA cautioned the U.S. against 'believing that its land is safe across the ocean' in what it described as a 'stern warning to the US.'
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, 33, first warned that the United States would 'pay dearly' for the United Nations sanctions regime it successfully imposed over the weekend and hinted at 'physical action' as tensions continued to escalate
Shortly after the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared on Fox & Friends to deliver to more tough talk to North Korea
Tuesday it slapped the U.S. again, saying in a statement that appeared in the New York Times: 'Packs of wolves are coming in attack to strangle a nation...They should be mindful that the D.P.R.K.'s strategic steps accompanied by physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength.'
Kim is fuming over a United Nations Security Council resolution that will cut a billion out of his $3 billion economy annually. The resolution bans North Korea exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood and blocks off other cash-rich avenues, including joint ventures.
The U.S. pushed the resolution through the Security Council on Saturday with the aid of Russia and China, North Korea's largest trading partner.
'Yes, China and Russia were not the easiest, but at the end of the day they came through, and that's all that matters,' Haley said this morning on Fox & Friends of the vote to put heavy penalties on North Korea over its continued nuclear tests.
China favors deconfliction with North Korea and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula but not the displacement of Kim. Beijing is concerned that a coup would put the country's stockpile of weapons in nefarious hands.
Naval Base Guam (file above) is located on the west side of the island. There is an estimated 6,300 active duty Navy members and 6,900 family members living on Guam as well as a significant population of retired military personnel
It joined the U.S. and 13 other nations that sit on the Security Council in approving new sanctions on North Korea, a nation with whom it shares a border, after Washington threatened to restrict access to its financial institutions last week.
North Korea's ramped up missile tests since Trump took office has the United States pursuing aggressive measures in the region, including Chinese sanctions.
Military action remains on the table, as well, sparking fears internationally that the conflict will result in war.
The Trump administration's attempts to pressure North Korea into abandoning its nuclear and missile ambitions have so far gained little traction.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has warned of an 'effective and overwhelming' response against North Korea if it chose to use nuclear weapons but has said any military solution would be 'tragic on an unbelievable scale.'
The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea to guard against the North Korean threat. 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.
Seoul is home to a population of roughly 10 million, within range of massed pre-targeted North Korean rockets and artillery, which would be impossible to destroy in a first U.S. strike.
A rising number of Republicans - 48 percent - want Trump to go that route. That's a jump from 37 percent in an April CBS News poll.
A majority of Americans are fearful that Trump is not equipped to go to battle with Kim, though. In the CBS survey, 61 percent of voters expressed doubts.
Most do not think North Korea will actually try to strike the U.S. with one of the intercontinental ballistic missiles it's been testing, however.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans think Kim is using the nuclear program to gain power and influence.
He added that Alaska's missile defense battalion 'is literally protecting the country.'
'The Alaska guard unit there calls themselves the 300, protecting the 300 million,' Sullivan said. 'So that's what they're doing now, protecting us.