Trump declares U.S. ‘locked and loaded’ in new North Korea threat
In his latest verbal broadside at North Korea, President Trump bluntly warned dictator Kim Jong-un on Friday that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” and that he should not “act unwisely.”
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” Trump said on Twitter.
It was not clear exactly what sort of “military solutions” Trump was referring to or what precisely would constitute unwise action by the North Korean leader.
But North Korea said on Thursday that it was putting together a plan to fire four missiles in the direction of the U.S. territory of Guam, a Pacific Ocean island that is home to large American military installations.
Trump’s warning came a day after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters in Silicon Valley that the U.S. effort to “get this under control” was “diplomatically led,” “gaining traction,” and “gaining diplomatic results.”
Mattis underlined that he wanted to “stay right there right now” and warned that the cost of conflict could be “catastrophic,” but also said that when it comes to the U.S. military, “we are ready.”
Trump has delivered several blistering warnings to Pyongyang as he and his top advisers work to resolve the most serious international confrontation of his barely 200-day-old administration. One of them, a threat on Tuesday to rain “fire and fury” on the isolated Stalinist country, surprised senior advisers.
Tensions have steadily escalated since July, when North Korea fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles – tests that showed its rockets could reach U.S. soil, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The United States responded by rallying an unusual 15-0 United Nations Security Council vote in favor of a package of tough new economic sanctions on the regime. This week, news outlets have reported that American intelligence confirmed a finding by Japan’s defense ministry that North Korea has likely developed warheads small enough to fit on its missiles.
There are still many questions about Pyongyang’s capabilities – how reliable are its guidance systems? Has it devised reentry systems to ensure that its warheads would not burn up in the atmosphere upon reentry?
On Thursday, Trump convened a briefing on the standoff with Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and White House chief of staff John Kelly.
“Let’s see what he does with Guam,” Trump told reporters afterwards, referring to Kim. “He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea.”
Trump was then asked whether that statement constituted a dare to Kim.
“It’s not a dare. It’s a statement. It has nothing to do with dare,” Trump responded. “That’s a statement. He’s not going to go around threatening Guam and he’s not going to threaten the United States and he’s not going to threaten Japan and he’s not going to threaten South Korea.”