TRUMP BOASTS OF U.S. NUKE ARSENAL
President responds after N. Korea reveals plans to strike US base in Guam
PRESIDENT Donald Trump yesterday ratcheted up his war of words with North Korea, declaring that America’s nuclear arsenal was “more powerful than ever” — even as his team insisted there was no imminent threat of danger.
Hours after putting Pyongyang on notice that it faced “fire and fury” over its weapons and ballistic missile programmes, Trump took to Twitter to issue another stark warning.
But after North Korea said it was considering a missile strike near the United States Pacific territory of Guam, Trump’s top diplomat delivered a message of reassurance to its residents and military personnel as he made a stop-over on the island.
Trump’s “fire and fury” comments on Tuesday had triggered expressions of concern from China, as well as from US allies.
Yesterday, stock markets and the dollar slipped as investors sought safe-haven investments.
Trump’s morning tweets — written from New Jersey, where he is on vacation for two weeks — did little to calm frayed nerves.
“My first order as president was to renovate and modernise our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump wrote.
“Hopefully, we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”
Trump’s language towards North Korea has become increasingly hard-edged since Pyongyang carried out a pair of successful intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month, which put the US mainland in range for the first time.
Guam — a 544 sq km dot in the Pacific that is home to some 6,000 US troops — would be a far easier target if North Korea were to confirm its position as a fullyfledged nuclear power.
Pyongyang’s KCNA state news agency reported that plans were being drawn up for missile strikes against Guam that could be put into action at “any moment” after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gives the order.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who refuelled in Guam yesterday while flying back home from Southeast Asia, said Trump was determined to send an unequivocal message to his North Korean counterpart.
“What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”
Tillerson, however, said he did not believe “there is any imminent threat” to Guam or other US targets and hoped that diplomatic pressure would prevail.
“I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” Tillerson said.
The North’s main ally, China, warned against “words and actions” that would stoke tensions, while Germany said it was watching the “increasing rhetorical escalation” with concern.
France, meanwhile, praised Trump’s “determination” in standing up to Pyongyang.
Republican Senator John McCain said Trump should tread carefully when speaking about the North, telling a US radio station: “All it’s going to do is bring us closer to some kind of serious confrontation.” AFP