NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump has issued an urgent warning to North Korea not to move ahead with its ballistic missile testing.
Friday morning on Twitter, the president wrote: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
Trump clarified that statement Friday afternoon during his working vacation in New Jersey.
“I hope they’re going to fully understand the gravity of what I said,” the president told reporters. “He (Kim) does anything with respect to Guam or an American territory, he will regret it and regret it fast.”
“This man will not get away with what he’s doing. Believe me,” he continued. “Those words are very, very easy to understand.”
Trump on Friday also retweeted images of U.S. B-1 bombers stationed in Guam.
North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. If carried out, it would be its most provocative missile launch to date.
Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo has emphasized that the threat level for the island has not changed and remains normal. Still, Guam’s Department of Homeland Security released a two-page fact sheet advising residents there how to try to survive in the event of a nuclear attack. It suggested building an emergency kit and having a family plan, and in the event of an attack, lying flat and avoiding looking directly at the blast.
Trump’s latest messages were issued despite a letter signed by more than 60 members of Congress asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to do everything in his power to ensure the president and his administration use “caution and restraint” in statements directed at North Korea.
“We have tens of millions of people in this country that are so happy with what I’m saying, because they’re saying, ‘finally, we have a president sticking up for our nation and frankly sticking up for our friends and our allies,” Trump said when asked about his critics.
On Thursday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said his responsibility is to have military options available, should they be needed, but he stressed diplomacy. Late Friday, Tillerson made similar remarks after a meeting with Trump.
“I think the president has made clear he prefers a diplomatic solution,” he said.
Trump previously said the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to threaten the U.S., and in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday, he didn’t back down.
“Maybe it wasn’t tough enough,” he said. “They have been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years.”
The president vowed to maintain the world’s strongest nuclear force, no matter the cost. He also said he would prefer no nuclear weapons and the complications they or their pursuit present in North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.
“I would like to de-nuke the world,” he said. “I would like Russia and the United States and China and Pakistan and many other countries that have nuclear weapons get rid of them.”
Secretary of Defense James Mattis insists that while the military is prepared, he’s still optimistic about a peaceful resolution, and Trump said he was optimistic China would provide further help in resolving the crisis.
Meanwhile, China has reiterated calls for all sides to maintain calm and reduce tensions over the Korean Peninsula.
The statement Friday does not mention any specific actions China would be willing to take, although some Chinese scholars and state media have called on Beijing to take on a shuttle diplomacy role to facilitate talks between the U.S. and North Korea.
China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.
China has called on South Korea and the U.S. to suspend large-scale military exercises in return for the North halting its programs in order to facilitate talks.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula “is complex and sensitive.”
“The Chinese side hopes all related parties will exercise caution in their words and actions and make greater efforts to alleviate the tense situation and enhance mutual trust, while not traveling the old path of making displays of strength and constantly exacerbating the situation,” he said.
But the U.S. announced Friday it will carry out its annual joint military exercises with South Korea later this month. North Korea has always viewed the training as preparation for war.
Gheewhan Kim, the consulate general for South Korea in New York, said his people are used to the North’s “empty and outrageous” nuclear threats.
“This is a typical brinkmanship,” he told CBS2’s Alice Gainer. “They create crisis and switch it for maximum gain, and they try negotiations.”
He said keeping a cool head is best right now and looks to the U.N. Security Council’s new sanctions on North Korea as the first focus.
“We have more sanctions to go unless North Korea responds — coal and iron ore, some strategic minerals, the oil supplies and the financial flow of overseas workers’ money,” Gheewhan Kim said.
Also Friday, Trump said he would not rule out military action against Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro is accused of human rights abuses.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)