Secretary Mattis says United States is 'ready' to counter North Korean threat

Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army

Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army

"The U.S. will continue to request Chinese and Russian commitments not to provide the regime with economic lifelines and to persuade it to abandon its unsafe path", the two secretaries wrote, naming another of North Korea's major worldwide trade partners.

Mattis said that the US effort to counter the nuclear missile ambitions of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is being "diplomatically led".

Maloney noted that Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that diplomatic efforts to contain the North Korea are working, and should remain the favored means of resolving the crisis.

Speaking with reporters in Mountain View, California, Mattis said his responsibility was to have military options available, but that the American effort was focused on diplomacy.

The nation's top military and diplomatic officers said over the weekend the United States remains intent on pursuing a diplomatic approach to rein in North Korea, but is also readying military options should provocation occur.

He pointed out that the UN Security Council unanimously voted last week to characterize North Korea's statements as a "threat to the world's community". Their move seems to be altogether different than President Trump's "fire and fury" warning against Pyongyang. That vote was a positive step for China, North Korea's chief worldwide trade partner and patron, but it must do more, Tillerson and Mattis wrote.

Pyongyang on Thursday announced it was finalising a plan to fire four missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam. He also said US military plans for North Korea were "locked and loaded", urging the Kim regime to alter its behavior. China is North Korea's neighbor, sole treaty ally and main commercial partner.