ABC News(BEDMINSTER, N.J.) — President Donald Trump suggested his warning to North Korea that it would be “met with fire and fury” if it continued making threats against the U.S. “wasn’t tough enough” Thursday, cautioning the nation to “get their act together” in regard to its nuclear ambitions.
Doubling down on his Tuesday threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump said that the country would be in trouble “like few nations have ever been” as he addressed the prospect of rising tensions with the rogue Asian nation before reporters at his New Jersey golf club.
“Things will happen to them that they never thought possible,” said Trump.
The past week has found the two countries engaging in increasingly hostile rhetoric. In a statement released through North Korea’s state-run news service Wednesday, the country’s military said it was developing a plan to fire missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam.
Trump’s “fire and fury” remarks Tuesday came after reports that North Korea produced a nuclear weapon small enough to fit inside a missile.
Members of Trump’s Cabinet offered differing views on the situation earlier in the week. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that North Korean actions would be “grossly overmatched” by the U.S. and would lose any “conflict it initiates,” while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters during a trip returning from Asia that Trump was simply using language North Korea understands and that the U.S. does not “seek to be a threat.”
Trump pushed back, however, against the suggestion that his administration was sending “mixed messages.”
“There are no mixed messages,” said Trump. “Rex was just, you know, stating the view. Look, here’s the view: I said it yesterday, I don’t have to say it again. I’ll tell you this, it may be tougher than I said it, not less. It may very well be tougher than I said it.”
The president was asked Thursday about the statement from North Korea’s military, which also described the “fire and fury” comment as a “load of nonsense” and called Trump a “guy bereft of reason.”
“They’ve been doing this to our country for a long time, many years. It’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries,” said Trump. “So if anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough. And we’re backed by 100 percent by our military. And we’re backed by many other leaders.”
Trump refused to say whether he would consider a preemptive strike given the North Korean threat, using the opportunity to criticize the Obama administration for announcing its military plans, but he did indicate his pessimism about finding a diplomatic solution.
“They’ve been negotiating now for 25 years. Look at [Bill] Clinton. He folded on the negotiations. He was weak and ineffective. You look what happened with [George W.] Bush, you look what happened with [Barack] Obama. Obama, he didn’t even want to talk about it,” said Trump of past presidents’ efforts.
This is a developing story. Please check back for additional details.
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