President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea on Friday, saying the U.S. 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 antagonize North Korea. Meanwhile, Russia, China and Germany voiced dismay at the escalating rhetoric from Pyongyang and Washington.
Trump, vacationing at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort, kept up the war of words and again referenced North Korea’s leader in his latest bellicose remarks toward Pyongyang this week. “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,” popularized 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, “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.”
Friday’s tweet by the Republican president, a wealthy businessman and former reality television personality, came after the North Korean state news agency, KCNA, put out a statement saying “Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.”
Guam, the Pacific island that is a U.S. 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.
“Do not look at the flash or fireball – It can blind you,” the guidelines stated. “Take cover behind anything that might offer protection.”
Guam is home to a strategically located U.S. air base, a Navy installation, a Coast Guard group and roughly 6,000 U.S. 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 18 to 25 miles (30-40 km) from Guam.
The United States, which is technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with only a truce, wants to stop Pyongyang from developing nuclear missiles that could hit the United States.