War of words with Kim

Trump is­sues more warn­ings, hints at peace­ful so­lu­tion

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Lemire The As­so­ci­ated Press

BED­MIN­STER, N.J. — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day is­sued fresh threats of swift and force­ful re­tal­i­a­tion against nu­clear North Korea, declar­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary “locked and loaded.”

The warn­ings came in a cas­cade of un­scripted state­ments through­out the day, each ratch­et­ing up a rhetor­i­cal stand­off be­tween the two nu­clear na­tions. The pres­i­dent ap­peared to draw an­other red line that would trig­ger a U.S. at­tack against North Korea and “big, big trou­ble” for its leader, Kim Jong Un. Trump’s com­ments, how­ever, did not ap­pear to be backed by sig­nif­i­cant mil­i­tary mo­bi­liza­tion on ei­ther side of the Pa­cific, and an im­por­tant, quiet diplo­matic chan­nel re­mained open.

“If he ut­ters one threat in the form of an overt threat, which by the way he has been ut­ter­ing for years and his fam­ily has been ut­ter­ing for years, or he 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,” Trump told re­porters at his New Jersey golf re­sort.

Asked if the U.S. was go­ing to war, he said cryp­ti­cally, “I think you know the an­swer to that.”

The com­pound­ing threats came in a week in which long-stand­ing ten­sions be­tween the coun­tries


risked abruptly boil­ing over. New United Na­tions sanc­tions con­demn­ing the North’s rapidly de­vel­op­ing nu­clear pro­gram drew fresh ire and threats from Py­ongyang. Trump re­sponded by vow­ing to rain down “fire and fury” if chal­lenged. The North then threat­ened to lob mis­siles near Guam, a tiny U.S. ter­ri­tory some 2,000 miles from Py­ongyang.

Tough talk aside, talks be­tween se­nior U.S. and North Korean diplo­mats con­tinue through a back chan­nel pre­vi­ously used to ne­go­ti­ate the re­turn of Amer­i­cans held in North Korea. The talks have ex­panded to ad­dress the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the re­la­tion­ship. They haven’t quelled ten­sions but could be a foun­da­tion for a more diplo­macy, ac­cord­ing to U.S. of­fi­cials and oth­ers briefed on the process. They weren’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the con­fi­den­tial ex­changes and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Trump on Fri­day sought to project strength, only di­al­ing back slightly through­out the day.

He be­gan with a morn­ing tweet: “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 bombers on Guam that “stand ready to ful­fill USFK’S #Fighttonight mis­sion if called upon to do so.” Such dec­la­ra­tions, how­ever, don’t in­di­cate a new, more ag­gres­sive pos­ture. “Fight tonight” has long been the motto of U.S. forces in South Korea.

Call for calm

Trump de­clined to ex­plain the boast of mil­i­tary readi­ness when asked by re­porters later in the day at an event high­light­ing work­force de­vel­op­ment pro­grams. He also

Brid­get Ben­nett Las Ve­gas Review-jour­nal

@brid­getk­ben­nett Chris­tian Teno­rio, left, whose fam­ily owns the Gua­ma­nian restau­rant Red Rice on South Eastern Av­enue in Hen­der­son, and em­ployee Noe Al­cala chat on Fri­day.

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