A man looks at replicas of a DPRK Scud-B missile (right) and Republic of Korea missiles at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul on Aug 10, 2017. (JUNG Yeon-Je / AFP)
WASHINGTON/BEIJING/BEDMINSTER, N.J - US President Donald Trump issued a new threat to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Friday, saying American weapons were "locked and loaded" as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.
Trump kept up the war of words on Twitter shortly after the DPRK state news agency, KCNA, put out a statement blaming him for the escalated tensions.
"Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war, making such outcries as 'the US will not rule out a war against the DPRK,'" KCNA said.
Trump, who is at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort on a working vacation, described American military readiness in stark terms.
"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 US always refer to the DPRK as North Korea.
The US president maintained pressure on the North a day after saying his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if it launched an attack may not have been tough enough.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis tempered Trump's harsh words later on Thursday by telling reporters the United States still preferred a diplomatic approach to DPRK threat. A war would be "catastrophic," he said.
"The American effort is diplomatically led, it has diplomatic traction, it is gaining diplomatic results and I want to stay right there right now," the travelling Pentagon chief told reporters in Mountain View, California. He added that the tragedy of war was well-enough known and "it doesn't need another characterization beyond the fact that it would be catastrophic."
Asked if the United States was ready if the DPRK committed a hostile act, he said: "We are ready."
Jim Mattis' remarks came amid escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, with Donald Trump unleashing a string of warnings to the DPRK
Mattis' remarks came amid escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, casting a different tone with Trump.
In fact, Mattis himself had also uttered strong words against the DPRK and reminded Pyongyang of the US military strength before his latest remarks. "The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons," Mattis said in a written statement on Wednesday, adding that the DPRK's "actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates."
Following the exchange of fierce rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday played down the threat from the DPRK, telling Americans to "sleep well at night."