U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday continued a spate of aggressive rhetoric aimed at North Korea, in a social media posting in which he said that U.S. military solutions to the issue are now “locked and loaded.”
The post comes amid an escalating war of words between Pyongyang and the U.S. President.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” Trump posted on Twitter. “Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
On Tuesday, Trump told reporters that North Korea would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” if it continued to threaten the United States.
Hours later, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried comments from the Korean People’s Army (KPA) saying the DPRK military was examining an operational plan to fire medium-to-long-range ballistic missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam, which houses U.S. troops.
The KPA also threatened to turn Seoul, South Korea, into a “sea of fire” if provoked.
While the threat was not in direct response to Trump’s comments, on Wednesday KCNA carried further comments from a KPA General, who reiterated the threat on Guam and added that the plan would be complete in August.
The article also called Trump’s “fire and fury” statement “a load of nonsense.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to explain Trump’s comments on Wednesday by saying that Americans should have “no concerns” and that the President’s remarks were meant to convey the U.S.’s willingness to defend itself and its allies.
Trump, Tillerson added, was attempting to communicate to Kim Jong Un in language he would understand.
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
Despite this, Trump doubled down on his Tuesday comments on Thursday, saying that his threats were perhaps not “tough enough.”
Friday’s tweet also follows remarks on Thursday by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
“The tragedy of war is well enough known,” Mattis said, responding to a question about the human toll of a nuclear confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S. “It doesn’t need another characterization beyond the fact that it would be catastrophic.”
However, during the week, the Secretary of Defense also said his job was to ensure a military option was prepared and that North Korea would be “grossly overmatched” by the U.S. if conflict were to break out.
NK Pro’s Threat Index, which measures rhetoric coming from KCNA, has seen a sharp increase in threats since Trump made his “fire and fury” statement.
The index has jumped from 0.4 to 0.7 between August 8 and August 10, with further threats being issued by North Korea via other state media channels.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Gage Skidmore
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