Trump warns U.S. ‘locked and loaded’ as North readies missiles
U.S. President Donald Trump says his critics are only complaining about his tough rhetoric on North Korea “because it’s me.”
He says his grave threats aimed at the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, would be welcomed as “a great statement” if “somebody else” uttered them.
Trump added that millions of Americans support his words because “finally we have a president that’s sticking up for our nation and frankly sticking up for our friends and our allies.”
Trump also said says North Korea’s leader will “regret it fast” if he threatens or acts against Guam, or any other U.S. territory or ally.
Those comments followed statements earlier Friday where Trump again delivered a bold warning to North Korea, tweeting that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” if the isolated rogue nation acts “unwisely,” escalating an exchange of threats between the nuclear-armed nations.
American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month that North Korea claims are a rehearsal for war. Pyongyang has laid out plans to strike near the U.S. territory of Guam.
Trump tweeted Friday: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
He later retweeted a posting from U.S. Pacific Command that showed B-1B Lancer bomber planes on Guam that “stand ready to fulfil USFK’s #FightTonight mission if called upon to do so.” ‘‘Fight tonight” has long been the motto of U.S. forces in South Korea to show they are always ready for combat on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump’s provocative public declarations, a break from the careful language of his predecessors, have only grown louder as the week as gone on. They included the president musing that his initial warning of delivering “fire and fury” to North Korea — which appeared to evoke a nuclear explosion — was too timid. The days of war rhetoric have alarmed international leaders.
“I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea and called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue.
“I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer,” Merkel added.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, estimated the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea as “very high,” and said Moscow was deeply concerned.
“When you get close to the point of a fight, the one who is stronger and wiser should be the first to step back from the brink,” Lavrov said Friday.
Trump’s bluster, however, stands in stark contrast to an ongoing back channel for negotiations between the United States and North Korea, which came to light Friday. It had been known the two sides had discussions to secure the June release of an American university student. But it wasn’t known until now that the contacts have continued, or that they have broached matters other than U.S. detainees.
People familiar with the contacts say the interactions have done nothing thus far to quell tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile advances, which are now fueling fears of military confrontation. But they say the behind-thescenes discussions could still be a foundation for more serious negotiation.
Despite tensions and talk of war, life on the streets of the North Korean capital remains calm. There are no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as was the case during previous crises.
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he answers a question regarding the ongoing situation in North Korea, Friday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.