US President Donald Trump said America’s nuclear arsenal is more powerful than ever before, and vowed “there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world”, further heightening tensions amid a war of words with North Korea, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Trump, however, did not mention North Korea in his latest tweet on Wednesday from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the newspaper said.
“Hopefully we will never have to use this power,” the president said.
The exchange of threats with North Korea began over the weekend when the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a new round of sanctions against North Korea in response to the isolated communist nation’s second ballistic missile test in July, the Journal said.
North Korea rejected calls for negotiations on its nuclear weapons and missile program, warning that it stood “ready to teach the US a severe lesson with its nuclear strategic force” if provoked.
Trump then warned Pyongyang against issuing further threats, saying it would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
Hours later on Tuesday, North Korea said it was considering firing missiles at US military forces in Guam.
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Wednesday reinforced Trump’s comments by saying that North Korea would be “grossly outmatched” by the US in any conflict Pyongyang initiates.
Mattis called on North Korea to stop taking actions that could “lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people”.
But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to calm tensions, stressing that the president’s remarks were not meant to signal any imminent military action.
Still, statements from other administration officials were far from reassuring.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Sunday the United States was preparing for the possibility of “preventive war” with North Korea.
Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said last month the US should “separate” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from his nuclear weapons.
“The North Korean people I’m sure are lovely people and would love to see him go as well,” he said.
Stephan Haggard, director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the University of California San Diego, said Tillerson’s efforts to get Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table were being undermined by other administration officials.
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