Trump Tells North Korea: 'Do not try us'

CNN/ Newswire | 11/8/2017, 8:10 a.m.
Standing near the front line of the world's tensest standoff, President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued a direct and personal ...
President Donald Trump said Tuesday "there would have been no difference three days ago" in the deadly Texas shooting if an extreme vetting policy for gun ownership had been in place.

By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

(CNN) -- Standing near the front line of the world's tensest standoff, President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued a direct and personal warning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, declaring during his first major speech in Asia that continued nuclear provocation could result in the communist nation's obliteration.

"The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger," Trump said during an address at South Korea's National Assembly in Seoul. "Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face."

In a bruising insult of the repressive regime founded by Kim Il-sung in the middle of last century and governed in his image ever since, Trump diminished the kingdom now ruled by his grandson.

"North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned," he said. "It is a hell that no person deserves."

It was a frank and cutting personal insult directed at the man who Trump has previously derided as "rocket man." He avoided that term on Wednesday, but was unsparing in his description of a failed state where the majority of citizens live in misery.

And while Trump similarly avoided his prior threats to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea should their nuclear threats persist, he was unequivocal in his vows to counter provocations with military force.

"That would be a fatal miscalculation," he said of North Korean threats to strike the US and its allies. "This a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. Do not underestimate us. And do not try us."

Earlier in the day, Trump attempted a symbolic stare-down of Kim at the heavily fortified border that separates North and South Korea. But heavy fog stymied his plans, and he was forced to turn back.

According to his aides, the scrapped plans frustrated Trump, who wanted to provide symbolic heft to his warnings to Pyongyang.

'The time for excuses is over'

North Korea's provocations have provided the underpinning for Trump's intensive talks in Asia at the start of his marathon tour of the continent. He received support in Japan for his combative stance, but in Seoul -- positioned 35 miles from the border with the North -- Trump's fiery rhetoric has been met with unease.

During a series of public appearances in and around the South Korean capital on Tuesday, Trump defended his provocative threats toward Kim, but declined to repeat the type of fiery bombast which has helped ratchet up tensions here. And while he again declined to rule out use of military force in countering North Korea's threats, he appeared less willing to provoke the communist regime than he has from the United States.

Standing before the South Korean legislature, Trump's audience extended beyond the walls of the soaring assembly hall situated on the banks of the Han River in central Seoul. He spoke to American listeners, and to leaders in Moscow and Beijing, as he exhorted the international community to step up its attempts to isolate North Korea.