President Donald Trump on Friday issued a new threat to North Korea, saying the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.
Trump kept up the war of words on Twitter shortly after the North Korean state news agency, KCNA, put out a statement blaming him for the escalated tensions.
“Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war, making such outcries as ‘the U.S. will not rule out a war against the DPRK,’” KCNA said.
The U.S. president, who is vacationing at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort, described American military readiness in stark terms.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.
“Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump maintained pressure on the North after a week of incendiary rhetoric including his warning on Tuesday that the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if it threatened the U.S.
U.S. allies in the region reacted with alarm to the unusual response from Washington and senior U.S. officials scrambled to play down his comments.
Trump still amplified the warning on Thursday, saying “maybe his “fire and fury” threat wasn’t tough enough.”
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis later tempered Trump’s harsh words, saying “the U.S. still preferred a diplomatic approach to the North Korean threat.
“A war would be “catastrophic,” he said.
Asked if the U.S. was prepared to handle a hostile act by North Korea, Mattis said: “We are ready.”
As of Thursday night, two U.S. officials said the threat with regards to North Korea had not changed, additional assets were not being moved into the region and intelligence did not show indications of North Korea preparing a missile launch.