President Donald Trump escalated the war of words between the U.S. and North Korea early Friday, tweeting that the military was “locked and loaded” should Pyongyang make good on its threats to strike U.S. targets.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” the president tweeted. “Hopefully [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2017
Trump has spent much of the week warning the isolated nation that the U.S. would unleash its nuclear arsenal if it continued its threats.
The president’s comments came amid reports this week that North Korea had developed a nuclear warhead that can ride atop its suddenly effective long-range missiles.
Trump spoke at length to reporters Thursday from his golf club in New Jersey on a host of issues surrounding the heated rhetoric between the two countries. When asked if he would decide to increase the military’s presence in Asia, the president said he was “looking at it right now.”
“We are preparing for many different, alternative events if North Korea — if — he has disrespected our country greatly,” Trump said of Kim. “He has said things that are horrific. And with me, he’s not getting away with it. He got away with it for a long time, between him and his family. He’s not getting away with it. It’s a whole new ballgame.”
North Korea asserted this week that it had a strike plan ready targeting the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, prompting Trump to imply the U.S. would hit the country with “fire and fury.”
In response to Pyongyang calling the president’s comments “nonsense,” Trump said it was simply a matter of the North Korea not having “heard it like they heard it.” Trump also brushed off the notion that his comments were too harsh.
“Maybe it wasn’t tough enough,” he said, adding that he was backed up “100 percent” by the military.
“You’ll see. You’ll see,” Trump said when asked what would be tougher than “fire and fury.”
Despite the escalating threats between Washington and Pyongyang, Trump has couched his comments by saying Americans anxious about the possibility of a nuclear war should be “very comfortable” and that he would “like to de-nuke the world.”
“I would like Russia and the United States and China and Pakistan, and many other countries that have nuclear weapons, get rid of them,” Trump said. “But until such time as they do, we will be the most powerful nuclear nation on Earth by far.”
Trump’s threats were welcomed by at least two Republican senators Friday morning.
Sen. Lindsey Graham told a South Carolina radio station he was confident that if all-out war broke out between the U.S. and North Korea, “we will win.”
“He’s right and he’s drawing a red line that he’s not going to subject the homeland to a nuclear attack by North Korea,” Graham said of Trump’s comments.
The South Carolina Republican said the president was “sending a real clear signal” that should have been sent two decades ago and that negations, sanctions and other efforts to stop North Korea from building a nuclear arsenal have largely stalled.
“We sent Dennis Rodman. I can’t believe that didn’t work,” Graham said of the retired American basketball player who has taken several trips to North Korea.
Sen. Rob Portman told CNN on Friday that the U.S. had to “honor our red lines.”
“What [Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Trump] are all saying is that should there be a pre-emptive strike by North Korea, the response will be swift,” the Ohio Republican said.
But Sen. Dan Sullivan broke with the president, instead urging calm and diplomacy.
“Mr. President, on #NorthKorea, we need calmness, credibility and strategic focus,” the Alaska Republican wrote on Twitter. “Robust homeland missile defense is also crucial.”