President Trump this week has gone from saying the U.S. will respond to North Korean threats with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” to clarifying those words were perhaps not “tough enough,” and to spelling out Friday, in case there were doubts, that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” to counter any threat.
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
The comments are likely to attract criticism, given that they raise already high tensions with North Korea, a nation that now possesses intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S.; is said to possess a miniaturized nuclear device it can fit into that missile; and has threatened in recent days to strike near Guam, the U.S. territory in the Pacific that is home to U.S. military bases. But the remarks also raise questions about what sort of response the U.S. is considering in the event the North Korean leader decides to flex his military muscles.
Trump, in tweets this week, noted the U.S. nuclear arsenal “is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” adding he hoped “we will never have to use this power.” It is widely believed that the U.S., the only country in the world ever to use nuclear weapons, will only use such weapons in the event of a first strike against its interests. Members of his Cabinet, have been quick to repeat that old saw: that while the U.S. prefers diplomacy, all options are on the table.