Secretary of State Rex Tillerson downplayed President Trump’s warning to North Korea over its nuclear intentions.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. nuclear arsenal of 6,800 warheads is plenty strong, to be sure.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, on Wednesday, underlined that, saying President Trump was informed of the growing threat from North Korea last December and has since stressed the need to enhance U.S. readiness. Mattis warned North Korea, which he referred to by its initials, that it would lose a nuclear showdown with the United States and its allies badly. 

“While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on earth,” Mattis said in a statement. “The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.

“The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people,” Mattis said.

But is the U.S. nuclear arsenal, as Trump boasted in a tweet earlier on Wednesday “now far stronger and more powerful than ever before…”

Probably not. 

And almost certainly not because, as he also tweeted, that his first order as president “was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal.” 

First of all, it wasn’t his first order — there were orders and memos on the Affordable Care Act and a hiring freeze, for example, that came before it, according to a USA TODAY database of his memos and orders.

More to the point, the renovations and modernization to the arsenal that he suggests were part of that order were put in motion by the Obama administration. Moreover, Trump’s order of Jan. 27 to rebuild the armed forces directed Defense…