Mattis warns North Korea of ‘end of its regime,’ ‘destruction of its people’

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis cautioned Wednesday that North Korea’s actions “will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates,” a day after President Donald Trump made a similar warning in the wake of reports North Korea is continuing to advance its nuclear capabilities.

Mattis added that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un should “take heed” of the United Nations Security Council’s “unified voice,” referring to recent sanctions issued against the nation, and called for the country to “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

The comments came in a statement released by the Department of Defense.

On Tuesday, during a briefing about the opioid drug crisis, Trump warned North Korea to not make any further threats against the United States.

“They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said. “He [Kim Jong-un] has been very threatening — beyond a normal statement — and as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

Members of the U.S. intelligence community believe that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities may be more advanced than initially thought, and the country may have developed the technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that can be placed inside a missile, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News Tuesday. The Washington Post first reported the news, citing a July 28 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency about North Korea’s capability of placing a nuclear warhead atop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Mattis’s statements on Wednesday add to the increasingly heated rhetoric between North Korea and the United States.

Responding to Trump’s comments, North Korea said it was considering a strike that would create “an enveloping fire” around Guam, a U.S. territory that is home to a key Air Force base.

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

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