US military 'locked, loaded' to strike North Korea, says President Donald Trump
Washington : US President Donald Trump further escalated his rhetorical standoff with North Korea on Friday, saying the country's military was "locked and loaded" to strike Pyongyang if the rogue nation "acted unwisely".
"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong-un will find another path!" Trump said on Twitter.
He spoke as North Korea accused him of "driving" the Korean peninsula to the "brink of a nuclear war".
Trump refused to back down in his verbal confrontation with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, suggesting to reporters on Thursday that his threat to unleash "fire and fury" may not have gone far enough.
"Maybe it wasn't tough enough," Trump said at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Trump said past administrations had not done enough to take on North Korea and that it is time a President "stuck up for the country".
At the centre of the geopolitical storm is the tiny island of Guam, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean. It's home to a US Navy base and the Andersen Air Force Base, from which US B-1B bombers conducted sorties over the Korean peninsula earlier this week, provoking the ire of Pyongyang's leadership and an escalating war of words between the US and North Korea.
On Thursday, North Korean state media KCNA said military leaders were working on a proposal to launch four intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles into the sea less than 25 miles off Guam's coast.
KCNA said the plan would presented to Kim by mid-August. Guam's Homeland Security Advisor George Charfauros said on Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.
"It's a 14-minute flight time if all the factors are successful and if it gets through all the US defence layers in place," Charfauros told CNN.
On Thursday, Trump replied to North Korea's threat to hit Guam with a threat of his own. "Let's see what he does with Guam," Trump said in reference to Kim. "He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before."
Two of the US' regional allies, South Korea and Japan, are taking steps to counter a potential escalation of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
Meanwhile, an editorial published in Chinese state-controlled newspaper Global Times on Friday said if North Korea launches missiles at the US, China will remain neutral, but if the US and South Korea initiate hostilities, China will take action.
It added that China maintains an anti-nuclear, anti-war and anti-chaos policy on the Korean Peninsula and it will resist any attempt to change the status quo.