Raising the stakes: Why North Korea is talking up Guam

Why diplomacy with North Korea works better than ‘fire and fury

Why diplomacy with North Korea works better than ‘fire and fury

Japan, which has in the past warned it would shoot down any North Korean missiles that threaten its territory, responded that it could "never tolerate" provocations from the reclusive state.

The US is "the mastermind of nuclear threat, the heinous nuclear war fanatic", the report said.

It comes after one-state North Korea announced it had formulated plans to fire rockets into the sea off Guam in a show of military might.

The pictures come as military officials said today that they plan to move ahead with large-scale US-South Korea exercises later this month that North Korea claims are a rehearsal for war.

China, North Korea's biggest ally and trade partner, has been voicing concern at the mounting exchanges and a state-run newspaper suggested that Beijing should stay neutral if Pyongyang struck the U.S. first.

"Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war, making such outcries as 'the U.S. will not rule out a war against the DPRK, '" KCNA said.

A Japan Self-Defense Force member stands by a PAC-3 Patriot missile unit deployed for North Korea's rocket launch at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Sunday, January 31, 2016. "Is the USA gonna go to war?"

Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been tense for months, in the wake of the North's repeated missile tests, including two successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launches in July that brought much of the USA mainland within range. Trump tweeted a day after his defence secretary said the United States was ready to counter any threat from Pyongyang.

The release came just days after North Korea's army said in a statement that it was reviewing a plan to attack the US territory.

He also said his previous promise of "fire and fury" in response to threats from North Korea may have not gone far enough, vowing "trouble" for the country if its actions don't change.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis tempered Trump's harsh words later by telling reporters the United States still preferred a diplomatic approach to the North Korean threat.

Speaking from Bedminster, N.J., where the president is on an extended working vacation, he said that if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that's an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast".

But he once again suggested that he expected China to "do a lot more" to bring North Korea into line.

Despite the heightened tensions, defence secretary James Mattis said the USA was committed to a peaceful solution. "We want to talk about a country that has misbehaved for many many years, decades actually, through numerous administrations and they didn't want to take on the issue and I had no choice but to take it on, and I'm taking it on", he said.

However, he added that the U.S. would always consider negotiations.

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