Time for North Korea to 'get their act together': Donald Trump

Updated 10.05pm: Donald Trump has issued a new threat to North Korea, demanding that Kim Jong Un's government "get their act together" or face extraordinary trouble.

The US president said his previous "fire and fury" warning to Pyongyang might have been too mild.

"Maybe that statement wasn't tough enough," Mr Trump said in the latest round of an escalating exchange of threats between the two nuclear-armed nations.

Speaking to reporters in New Jersey, Mr Trump said North Korea has been "getting away with a tragedy that can't be allowed".

But he declined to say whether the US is considering a pre-emptive military strike, arguing that his administration never discusses such deliberations publicly.

Mr Trump spoke after North Korea intensified its own rhetoric by announcing a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to US bombers.

That announcement had been a response to Mr Trump's threat that the North would face "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it threatened the US again.

Mr Trump said it is time somebody stood up to the pariah nation.

Flanked by US vice president Mike Pence, Mr Trump said: "North Korea better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble. It may very well be tougher than I said."

Mr Trump spoke after meeting with national security advisers at the golf resort where he is on holiday. He said the US "of course" would always consider negotiations with North Korea, but added that talks with North Korea have failed for the last 25 years.

He said that China, North Korea's biggest trading partner, needs to do more to apply pressure - and predicted that it will.

The threatened attack near Guam, if carried out, would be the North Korea's most provocative missile launch to date. North Korea said it is finalising a plan to fire four of its Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny island, which hosts 7,000 US military personnel on two main bases and has a population of 160,000.

Japan and South Korea vowed a strong reaction if North Korea were to go through with the plan. Mr Trump added his voice on Thursday, insisting that if North Korea took any steps to even think about an attack, it would have reason to be nervous.

"Things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?" Mr Trump said. Of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr Trump added: "He's been pushing the world around for a long time."

North Korea said the plan, which involves the missiles hitting waters 19 to 25 miles from the island, could be sent to leader Kim for approval within a week or so. It would be up to Kim whether the move is actually carried out. But the extreme specificity of the plan suggested it was designed to show North Korea is actually plotting a launch.

The report said the Hwasong-12 rockets would fly over Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures in Japan and travel "1,065 seconds before hitting the waters 30 to 40 kilometres away from Guam". It said the Korean People's Army Strategic Force will finalise the plan by mid-August, present it to Kim Jong Un and "wait for his order".

"We keep closely watching the speech and behaviour of the US," it said.

It is unclear whether - or exactly why - North Korea would risk firing missiles so close to US territory. Such a launch would almost compel the United States to attempt an intercept and possibly generate further escalation.

North Korea, no stranger to bluffing, frequently uses extremely bellicose rhetoric with warnings of military action to keep its adversaries on their heels. It generally couches its threats with language stating it will not attack the United States unless it has been attacked first or has determined an attack is imminent.

But the statement raised worries amid threats from both sides.

South Korea's military responded by saying North Korea will face a "stern and strong" response from Washington and Seoul. Taking it a step further, Japan's defence minister Itsunori Onodera told parliament a missile attack on the US territory would be a Japanese national emergency because it would threaten Japan's existence as a nation.

Guam lies about 2,100 miles from the Korean Peninsula, and it is extremely unlikely Kim's government would risk annihilation with a pre-emptive attack on US citizens. It is also unclear how reliable North Korea's missiles would be against such a distant target.

 

Washington has been testing its missile defences in response to the North Korea's stepped-up development and the current escalation of tensions could lead to pressure for the US military to try to shoot down the North Korea's missiles in mid-flight if they are heading towards Guam.

That would likely open up a set of very major problems, including the possibility of both a very high-profile failure or a miscalculation of Washington's intentions and a more deadly pre-emptive strike by North Korea - which has missiles able to hit Tokyo and conventional weapons that could devastate South Korea's capital of Seoul.

The Hwasong-12, which was revealed for the first time at a military parade in April, is an intermediate-range ballistic missile that is believed to have a radius of more than 2,300 miles. It can be fired from mobile launchers, making it hard to detect and destroy on the ground.

By launching a salvo of four, North Korea would be attempting to make it harder for the US to intercept all of the incoming missiles. Its stated flight path over Japan is also very aggressive - it has recently tried to avoid flying over neighbouring countries by shooting its missiles up at a very high angle to land in the ocean.

- AP

Earlier: US President Donald Trump has said that perhaps his "fire and fury" warning to North Korea "wasn’t tough enough".

Mr Trump said North Korea had "better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble".

The US president was addressing reporters during his holiday at his New Jersey golf club before a security briefing with top advisers.

It is the latest warning since he said earlier this week that North Korea faces "retaliation with fire and fury unlike any the world has seen before".

North Korea has said it may attack Guam in retaliation and has described Trump's threats as "nonsense"

Referring to his comments earlier in the week Mr Trump said: "Maybe that statement wasn't tough enough."

He said North Korea had been "getting away with a tragedy that can't be allowed".

But he declined to say whether the US was considering a pre-emptive military strike, arguing that his administration never discusses such deliberations publicly.

Mr Trump said it was time that somebody stood up to the pariah nation.

Flanked by US vice president Mike Pence, he said: "It may very well be tougher than I said."

Mr Trump said the US "of course" would always consider negotiations with North Korea, but added that negotiations with the North have failed for the last 25 years. He accused his predecessors of failing to effectively address the North Korea problem.

Alluding to the threats against Guam, Mr Trump said if North Korea took any steps to even think about an attack, it would have reason to be nervous.

"Things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?" Mr Trump said. Of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr Trump added: "He's been pushing the world around for a long time."

Mr Trump also took the opportunity to declare the opioid crisis in the US as a "national emergency".

He told reporters the drug crisis afflicting the nation is a "serious problem the likes of which we have never had" and said he is drawing up documents "to so attest".

A drug commission convened by Mr Trump recently called for a national emergency declaration to help deal with the opioid crisis.

Health and human services secretary Tom Price earlier this week seemed to suggest the president was leaning against the recommendation when he said the administration could deploy the necessary resources and attention without declaring a national emergency.

Still, Mr Price stressed that "all things" were "on the table for the president".


 

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