President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea on Friday, saying the US military was “locked and loaded” as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war and world powers expressed alarm.
The Pentagon said the United States and South Korea would proceed as planned with a joint military exercise in 10 days, an action sure to further antagonise North Korea.
China, Russia and Germany voiced dismay at the war of words between Pyongyang and Washington. Trump, who has pressed China to help rein in its ally North Korea, said he would speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday night.
Trump, vacationing at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort, again referred to North Korea’s leader in his latest bellicose remarks. “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” he wrote on Twitter. “Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
The term “locked and loaded,” popularised in the 1949 war film “Sands of Iwo Jima” starring American actor John Wayne, refers to preparations for shooting a gun.
Asked later by reporters to explain the remark, Trump said: “Those words are very, very easy to understand.”
Again referring to Kim, Trump added, “If he utters one 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, and he will regret it fast.”
In remarks to reporters after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Trump said the situation with North Korea was “very dangerous and it will not continue.”
“We will see what happens. We think that lots of good things could happen, and we could also have a bad solution,” he said.
Despite the tough rhetoric, Trump insisted that “nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”
Trump said he thought US allies South Korea and Japan were “very happy” with how he was handling the confrontation.
The president, a wealthy businessman and former reality television personality, sent his tweet after North Korean state news agency, KCNA, said in a statement that “Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.”
Guam, the Pacific island that is a US territory, posted emergency guidelines on Friday to help residents prepare for any potential nuclear attack after a threat from North Korea to fire missiles in its vicinity.
Guam is home to a US air base, a Navy installation, a Coast Guard group and roughly 6,000 US military personnel. KCNA said on Thursday the North Korean army would complete plans in mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land in the sea 30-40 km from Guam.
Trump called the governor of Guam, Eddie Baza Calvo. “We are with you a thousand per cent. You are safe,” Trump told Calvo, who posted a video of him speaking with the president on Facebook.