U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Wednesday warned North Korea that it would not succeed in any military engagements with the U.S. or its allies, via a press statement released by the Department of Defense.
The former U.S. Marine general’s comments come amid back and forth rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, with both countries threatening the use of force.
“It must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth,” the press release reads.
“The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”
Mattis added U.S. President Donald Trump’s first order to him in December was to ready the country’s missile defenses and nuclear deterrents.
But the Secretary of Defense also urged North Korea to listen to the UN and the international community and stressed the State Department was “making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means.”
Mattis’ remarks follow aggressive posturing from both the U.S. and North Korea, with Trump on Tuesday saying the DPRK would be met with “fire and fury” if it continued to threaten the United States.
North Korea responded almost immediately by claiming it was drawing up plans to attack U.S. military facilities on Guam with intermediate range ballistic missiles. The DPRK also continued to threaten “all out war” should it face any military interventions.
But throughout the escalating tensions, Washington’s top diplomat Rex Tillerson has indicated the U.S. could negotiate with North Korea, on Wednesday adding Americans should have “no concerns” about Trump’s remarks.
“I think that the President again – as commander in chief – I think he felt it necessary to issue a very strong statement directly to North Korea,” Tillerson told CNN on Wednesday.
In July, North Korea successfully tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which could potentially have the range to hit several cities on the U.S. mainland.
The missile tests led Washington to propose a new resolution at the UN, which was approved by the Security Council on August 5.