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Mattis warns NKorea against risking 'destruction of its people'
10 August 2017, 12:12 | Camille Rivera
If N. Korea launches nukes, Washington's not allowed to have evacuation plan
US Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a dramatic warning to North Korea to "cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people" on Wednesday - just one day after President Donald Trump warned that the US could unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang.
"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, according to The Hill.
Al Jazeera's Heidi Zhou-Castro said that the missile that North Korea was threatening to hit Guam with was tested in May and South Korea's intelligence analysts concluded it was capable of flying up to 5,000 kilometres, "which does make Guam well within striking range".
Mattis stressed that his first talks with Trump centered around the US's ability to defend against and deter nuclear missile attacks. Three U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States had not moved additional assets into the region after North Korea's threats against Guam.
Mattis's tone was at odds with that of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who earlier said he did not believe "there is any imminent threat" to Guam or other USA targets and hoped that diplomatic pressure would prevail in the crisis.
"There had not been any discussions about escalating the rhetoric in response to Kim's statements or about the possible effects of doing that", the official said.
"We always maintain a high state of readiness and have the capabilities to counter any threat, to include those from North Korea", Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, told Business Insider.
"They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen", Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. "You've got to be sure you can do what you say you're going to do", McCain said in a radio interview. The US now puts the North Korean arsenal at up to 60 nuclear weapons, more than double most assessments by independent experts, according to the Post's reporting. Democratic leaders criticised Trump for his statement on North Korea.
Mattis also lauded the State Department's efforts to bring a diplomatic solution to the Korean peninsula's conflict.
Tens of thousands of United States troops remain stationed in South Korea and in nearby Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons. Its population is around 160,000 - but only about 6,000 U.S. troops are now stationed there.
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