North Korea: Donald Trump Says US Military Solutions 'locked And Loaded' As Guam Warns Of 'imminent' Strike





President Donald Trump is pictured. | AP

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after a security briefing at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Thursday. | Evan Vucci/AP

Trump: Military plans are 'locked and loaded' on North Korea

The president also warned that North Korea 'will truly regret' threatening or attacking the U.S. and its allies.

By LOUIS NELSON

Updated

2017-08-11T06:57-0400

President Donald Trump on Friday warned that U.S. plans for military action against North Korea are “locked and loaded,” urging North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to “find another path” amid escalating tensions on both sides of the Pacific.

“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” the president wrote on Twitter Friday morning.

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He explained to reporters later Friday that his tweet is “pretty obvious” and said he hopes Kim will “fully understand the gravity of” it.

“If he utters one threat in the form of an overt threat … or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it,” Trump warned. “And he will regret it fast.”

And the president expressed confidence that the U.S. will find a resolution with North Korea — and fast. “We’ll either be very, very successful, quickly,” he said, “or we’re going to be very, very successful in a different way quickly.”

Trump in no way softened his tone while addressing reporters later Friday from his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., adding that his administration was considering further economic sanctions against North Korea. If implemented, he said, the sanctions would occur “at a very, very high level.”

“You could say as strong as they get,” he added, describing the type of sanctions his administration is considering.

The president also provided a measure of reassurance to citizens of Guam, adding that "if anything happens to Guam, there's going to be big, big trouble in North Korea."

Trump’s threats against North Korea have escalated this week, with the president warning on Tuesday that the Kim regime would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues its threatening behavior toward the U.S. Trump doubled down on that rhetoric Thursday, telling reporters that perhaps his “fire and fury” threat “wasn’t tough enough.”

He also declined to rule out a preemptive strike against the regime.

The president’s stepped-up rhetoric has come in response to seeming advancements in North Korea’s long-held goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon capable of striking the U.S. In recent weeks, Pyongyang has tested ballistic missiles that could potentially hit the continental U.S., news that has been compounded by reports of U.S. intelligence agency assessments that the Kim regime already possesses a nuclear warhead small enough to fit inside one of those missiles.

In response to the president’s Tuesday warning of “fire and fury,” which North Korea dismissed as “a load of nonsense,” the Kim regime also threatened to attack the Pacific island of Guam, the U.S. territory with a significant military presence, with an “enveloping fire.”

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The hot rhetoric dragged down financial markets this week, stripping more than $1 trillion from stock markets worldwide as investors shifted funds into traditionally safer bets like the Japanese yen, Swiss franc, and U.S. and German bonds and gold, all of which climbed higher this week. The slide in the markets is a blow for the Trump administration, which has prided itself on the climb in U.S. stock prices since the inauguration.

China, responsible for the majority of North Korea’s international trade and its chief patron on the world stage, has waded into the middle of the cross-Pacific threats, warning both the U.S. and the Kim regime against taking military action. In an editorial published Friday in a state-run newspaper, the contents of which were reported by The Washington Post, the Chinese Global Times newspaper said China won’t assist North Korea if it launches a preemptive strike against the U.S.

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the editorial read. “If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, too, weighed in, telling reporters Friday in Berlin that "I don't see a military solution and I don't think it's called for," according to The Associated Press, and that "I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer."

Trump responded by calling Merkel a friend of the president and first daughter Ivanka Trump. But he also suggested she was speaking for Germany. “She’s certainly not referring to the United States,” he said. “That I can tell you.”

Adding a layer of confusion to the rhetoric emerging from Washington has been the mixed messages from various arms of the Trump administration. One day after the president’s “fire and fury” threat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was en route to Guam at the time, told reporters that “Americans should sleep well at night” and that “I do not believe that there is any imminent threat” from North Korea.”

That same day, Defense Secretary James Mattis took a tougher tone, declaring that the Kim regime “should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.” On Thursday, Mattis more closely matched Tillerson, responding “no” when asked by a reporter if people in Guam should be concerned.

Asked to square the differing tones coming from the State and Defense departments, White House national security aide Sebastian Gorka told the BBC on Thursday that those seeking the official U.S. position “should listen to the president.” He called it “nonsensical” that Tillerson would comment on military matters, although he later sought to walk back that comment in a statement explaining that he had only meant to criticize reporters for asking the secretary of state military questions.

Cristiano Lima and Nolan D. McCaskill contributed to this report.

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