Trump Warns North Korea: US Military 'locked and loaded'

CNN/ Newswire | 8/11/2017, 11:44 a.m.
President Donald Trump further escalated his rhetorical standoff with North Korea Friday morning, suggesting the US was ready to respond ...
President Donald Trump

By Dan Merica, Kevin Liptak and Angela Dewan, CNN

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump further escalated his rhetorical standoff with North Korea Friday morning, suggesting the US was ready to respond with military force should the rogue nation "act unwisely."

In an early morning tweet, Trump appeared to warn the Pyonyang regime that the US military was on the verge of a strike. "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" he tweeted.

It was the third consecutive day that Trump has used incendiary language to describe the threat posed by North Korea, which has responded with a threat to launch a series of missiles in the direction of the US Pacific territory of Guam.

On Wednesday, Trump said he would unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on North Korea, which has conducted successful tests in recent months of intercontinental ballistic missiles the could reach the US mainland. On Thursday Trump said his threat may not have been tough enough and claimed past administrations had not done enough to take on North Korea.

A White House official downplayed Trump's latest declaration, telling CNN there were military plans for "just about any crisis we may face in the world" and they were regularly updated. "This isn't anything new," the official added.

Defense secretary James Mattis said on Thursday night that diplomatic efforts to contain the threat posed by North Korea remain the favored means for solving the crisis. He noted that the UN Security Council, in a rare display of unanimity over North Korea, passed a resolution that tightened sanctions against Kim's regime.

Region unsettled

The standoff has unsettled regional powers, some of which are scrambling to work out how to respond to the sudden escalation.

Russia's boosted its air defense systems in the far east, a report from state news agency RIA Novosti said on Friday.

An official at Japan's Ministry of Defense told CNN the country was deploying a US-supplied land-based missile interception system, known as a PAC-3, to four different locations, including three named by North Korean state media as under the flight path of the proposed strike at Guam. Officials aim for them to be in place by Saturday morning.

Calls for restraint

Neighboring powers urged restraint. Russia called on the Trump administration to keep calm, and on Friday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state media that his country was working with China on a "double freezing" plan to address the threat.

"Kim Jong Un freezes any nuclear tests and any missile launches -- we mean ballistic missiles -- and the US and South Korea freeze large scale military exercises," Lavrov said, adding that North Korea regularly uses the drills to justify its missile tests and nuclear program.

"I believe that when it almost reaches the point of a fight, the one who is stronger and smarter must take the first step away from the dangerous line," he said.