U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, DPRK, on Friday, saying U.S. weapons were “locked and loaded.” The threat comes after Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s words came after DPRK 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 U.S. will not rule out a war against the DPRK,'" KCNA said.
U.S. aggression in the region has intensified since the DPRK launched two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July in defiance of world powers. The country was further angered by last week's U.N. decision to increase economic sanctions against it.
KCNA also said on Thursday that the DPRK's army would complete plans in mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles towards waters off the U.S. territory of Guam.
Trump promised that the DPRK would not get away with their "horrific" comments, which he claimed disrespected the United States.
"Let's see what he (Kim) does with Guam. He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody's seen before, what will happen in North Korea," Trump told reporters on Thursday in New Jersey.
U.S. officials said Friday that they plan to move ahead with large-scale U.S.-South Korea exercises later this month, which the DPRK asserts is a rehearsal for war.
Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run from Aug. 21-31 and will involve tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air.
Washington and Seoul claim the exercises are "defensive" in nature and were scheduled well before tensions began to rise. But heightened military activity on the Peninsula could increase the possibility of serious escalation.
China, the DPRK's most important ally and trading partner, has reiterated calls for calm as tensions and threats continue to rise between Pyongyang and Washington.
"China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral," the Global Times said in an editorial.
"If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so."