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Military solutions ‘locked and loaded’, Trump warns North Korea

Trump has dialled up the rhetoric on North Korea, saying his threat of “fire and fury” may not have been tough enough.

world Updated: Aug 11, 2017 20:33 IST
Yashwant Raj
Donald Trump speaks to reporters at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey on August 10, 2017.
Donald Trump speaks to reporters at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey on August 10, 2017.(Reuters)

US President Donald Trump issued a fresh threat to North Korea on Friday saying America’s “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” should Pyongyang “act unwisely”, but also kept the door open to an alternative path to scaling down tensions, putting the onus of it on Kim Jong Un.

“Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” Trump tweeted.

Trump has dialled up the rhetoric on North Korea, saying his threat of “fire and fury” may not have been tough enough, warning Pyongyang of a retaliatory “event” the likes of which it would have never been thought possible.

Pyongyang has sought to match Trump’s rhetoric, calling him “a guy bereft of reason” and issuing threats of its own. The North Korean military has said it was working on a plan that will involve firing intermediate range missiles into the seas creating an “enveloping fire” around Guam, a US territory in the Pacific that is home to several US military facilities.

On Thursday, Trump attacked the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally, saying: “He has disrespected our country greatly. 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.”

Trump also sought to dispel the notion that his administration was speaking in different voices on North Korea: “There were no mixed messages. Look, here’s the view. I said it yesterday. I don’t have to say it again. And I’ll tell you this, it may be tougher than I said it, not less.”

But his secretary of state Rex Tillerson and defence secretary James Mattis have sought play down talk of war. Citing the new UNSC sanctions against North Korea, Mattis told reporters that “the American effort is diplomatically led … It has diplomatic traction. It is gaining diplomatic results. And I want to stay right there right now.”

He added, “The tragedy of war is well enough known; it doesn’t need another characterization, beyond the fact that it would be catastrophic.”

But Trump seemed determined to use tough talk, especially in the context of Pyongyang’s direct threat on Guam. “Let’s see what he does with Guam,” he said referring to Kim. “If he does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before -- what will happen in North Korea.”

And that warning, Trump made clear held true also for any North Korean threat to allies South Korea and Japan.

Trump’s earlier remarks about “fire and fury” were unscripted and not discussed with his national security advisers and had drawn widespread criticism from many quarters at home. Some called it “bombastic” and others said Trump was pushing the country towards a nuclear war by posting a potentially unenforceable red-line for Pyongyang.

But Trump not only did not back down, he escalating the rhetoric. “They’ve (the North Koreans) been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years, and it’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries. So if anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough.”

But he refused to spell out what can be tougher than “fire and fury”. And to a question about pre-emptive strikes, Trump said he doesn’t like to talking about military plans and actions.