Trump’s new threat to N. Korea

U.S pres­i­dent says ‘fire and fury’ state­ment may not be tough enough

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JONATHAN LEMIRE AND ERIC TAL­MADGE

BED­MIN­STER, N.J. — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is­sued a new threat to North Korea on Thurs­day, de­mand­ing that Kim Jong Un’s gov­ern­ment “get their act to­gether” or face ex­tra­or­di­nary trou­ble. He said his pre­vi­ous “fire and fury” warn­ing to Py­ongyang might have been too mild.

“Maybe that state­ment wasn’t tough enough,” Trump said in the lat­est round of an es­ca­lat­ing ex­change of threats be­tween the two nu­clear-armed na­tions.

Speaking to re­porters in New Jersey, Trump said North Korea has been “get­ting away with a tragedy that can’t be al­lowed.” Still, he de­clined to say whether the U.S. is con­sid­er­ing a pre-emp­tive mil­i­tary strike, ar­gu­ing that his ad­min­is­tra­tion never dis­cusses such de­lib­er­a­tions pub­licly.

Trump spoke af­ter North Korea in­ten­si­fied its own rhetoric by an­nounc­ing a de­tailed plan to launch a salvo of bal­lis­tic mis­siles to­ward the U.S. Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam, a ma­jor mil­i­tary hub and home to U.S. bombers. That an­nounce­ment had been a re­sponse to Trump’s threat that the North would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it threat­ened the U.S. again.

On Thurs­day, Trump said it is time some­body stood up to the pariah na­tion.

“North Korea bet­ter get their act to­gether or they are go­ing to be in trou­ble like few na­tions have ever been in trou­ble,” Trump said, flanked by Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence. “It may very well be tougher than I said.”

Trump spoke af­ter meet­ing with na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers at the golf re­sort where he’s va­ca­tion­ing. He said the U.S. “of course” would al­ways con­sider ne­go­ti­a­tions with North Korea, but added that talks with the North have failed for the last 25 years. He said that China, the North’s big­gest trad­ing part­ner, needs to do more to ap­ply pres­sure — and pre­dicted that it will.

The threat­ened at­tack near Guam, if car­ried out, would be the North’s most provoca­tive mis­sile launch to date. The North said it is fi­nal­iz­ing a plan to fire four of its Hwa­song-12 mis­siles over Ja­pan and into wa­ters around the tiny is­land, which hosts 7,000 U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel on two main bases and has a pop­u­la­tion of 160,000.

Ja­pan and South Korea vowed a strong re­ac­tion if the North were to go through with the plan. Trump added his voice on Thurs­day, in­sist­ing that if North Korea took any steps to even think about an at­tack, it would have rea­son to be ner­vous.

“Things will hap­pen to them like they never thought pos­si­ble, OK?” Trump said. Of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump added: “He’s been push­ing the world around for a long time.”

North Korea said the plan, which in­volves the mis­siles hit­ting wa­ters 30 to 40 kilo­me­tres (19 to 25 miles) from the is­land, could be sent to leader Kim for ap­proval within a week or so.

It would be up to Kim whether the move is ac­tu­ally car­ried out. But the ex­treme speci­ficity of the plan sug­gested it was de­signed to show North Korea is ac­tu­ally plot­ting a launch.

The re­port said the Hwa­song-12 rock­ets would fly over Shi­mane, Hiroshima and Koichi pre­fec­tures in Ja­pan and travel “1,065 sec­onds be­fore hit­ting the wa­ters 30 to 40 kilo­me­tres away from Guam.” It said the Korean Peo­ple’s Army Strate­gic Force will fi­nal­ize the plan by midAu­gust, present it to Kim Jong Un and “wait for his or­der.”

“We keep closely watch­ing the speech and be­hav­iour of the U.S.,” it said.

It is un­clear whether — or ex­actly why — North Korea would risk fir­ing mis­siles so close to U.S. ter­ri­tory. Such a launch would al­most com­pel the United States to at­tempt an in­ter­cept and pos­si­bly gen­er­ate fur­ther es­ca­la­tion.

North Korea, no stranger to bluff­ing, fre­quently uses ex­tremely bel­li­cose rhetoric with warn­ings of mil­i­tary ac­tion to keep its ad­ver­saries on their heels. It gen­er­ally couches its threats with lan­guage stat­ing it will not at­tack the United States un­less it has been at­tacked first or has de­ter­mined an at­tack is im­mi­nent.

South Korea’s mil­i­tary re­sponded by say­ing North Korea will face a “stern and strong” re­sponse from Wash­ing­ton and Seoul.

AL DRAGO, NEW YORK TIMES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks to re­porters, as Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence looks on Thurs­day.

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