By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — U.S. President Donald Trump on August 10 said his statement that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury” if it threatened the United States again may not have been “tough enough.”
Speaking to reporters as he vacationed at his golf club in New Jersey, Trump said that while he will always consider negotiations, Pyongyang should be “very, very nervous” if it does anything to the United States.
“North Korea better get their act together, or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble,”he said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has “disrespected our country greatly. He has said things that are horrific,” Trump said. “And with me, he’s not getting away with it.”
“It’s not a dare. It’s a statement,” Trump said. “He’s not going to go around threatening Guam. And he’s not going to threaten the United States. And he’s not going to threaten Japan. And he’s not going to threaten South Korea.”
North Korea has said it will complete plans by mid-month to strike near the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam with intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
“Let’s see what he does with Guam,” Trump said. “He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea.”
Shortly after Trump spoke, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the United States is “ready” to take on North Korea, but Washington still prefers to resolve matters through negotiations because any war would be “catastrophic.”
On August 8, the U.S. president warned that North Korea will “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” after a Washington Post report, citing U.S. intelligence officials, said Pyongyang had produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles — a key step in the country’s attempt to become a full-fledged nuclear power.
In response, Pyongyang announced a detailed plan to fire missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam soon as a “crucial warning,” adding that “only absolute force can work” on Trump.
Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have escalated after North Korea tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July, later claiming that it now had the capability to reach all of the U.S. mainland.
Last week, the United Nations imposed its harshest sanctions yet on Pyongyang as a result of its nuclear weapons program. They are expected to cut North Korea’s export revenues by one-third.
Trump praised China and Russia for backing the sanctions, saying “I have great respect for what China and what Russia did.”
But he said China, North Korea’s closest ally, could do “a lot more” to pressure Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program.
Trump also railed against previous U.S. administrations for not being tough enough on North Korea, calling the country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons a “tragedy.”
Earlier on August 10, North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA quoted General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), as saying that Pyongyang was planning to launch four Hwasong-12 rockets that would fly over Japan and hit the water around 30 to 40 kilometers away from Guam in the western Pacific.
Guam, located in the Pacific Ocean some 3,400 kilometers from the Korean Peninsula, is home to a U.S. military base and about 160,000 people.
Kim said the plan would be finalized by mid-August and that the KPA would then await the orders of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
He also said that Trump had “let out a load of nonsense about ‘fire and fury,’ failing to grasp the ongoing grave situation.”
Meanwhile, South Korea’s military on August 10 warned Pyongyang that it would face “the allies’ strong and resolute retaliation” in case of an attack.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Pyongyang’s threat to fire missiles near Guam is “absolutely unacceptable.”