Mattis to Kim Jong-un: US Would 'End' North Korean Regime

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

Mattis' comments followed North Korea's threats of a missile attack on a U.S. base on Guam in the Pacific this morning and Donald Trump's unexpected, stark promise to respond with "fire and fury" against the nation last night.

Tillerson said the United States is hopeful that its pressure campaign, with the engagement of China and Russian Federation, two of North Korea's closest neighbors, can begin to persuade the regime they need to take a different diplomatic path, and that nothing that he's seen or that he knows of "would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours".

The Pentagon chief remained largely mum on the details of that military solution, which theoretically would curb Pyongyang's efforts to develop a nuclear-capable, ballistic missile arsenal, except to say any military option would be a multilateral one involving a number of regional powers in the Pacific.

The US Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a dramatic ultimatum to North Korea on Wednesday and said that it should "not invite destruction of your people".

By launching a volley of four, the North would be attempting to make it harder for the U.S.to intercept all of the incoming missiles.

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The US has large military bases in the Guam, strategic bombers and about 163,000 people.

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USA defence officials now believe North Korea has successfully made a miniaturised nuclear warhead that can fit inside one of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to a Washington Post report. "Its threat on Guam appears to be aimed at boosting internal solidarity", the official said, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

And Mattis clearly reminded Pyongyang of that military strength on Wednesday.

"Americans should sleep well at night", Tillerson said as he flew from Malaysia to Washington, stopping in Guam to refuel.

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Trump was "sending a strong message to North Korea in language that (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un would understand", Tillerson said.

Asked whether he had considered rerouting his trip to Guam, given its status as a potential target, the secretary said that the "North Korean missile capability can point in many directions" and that he did not consider changing course.

That impetus has only grown among administration officials amid reports this week that Pyongyang had built a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop one of the country's long-range missiles.

North Korea immediately called Trump's rhetoric a "load of nonsense" that was aggravating a grave situation.

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