“Will only the U.S. have option called ‘preventive war’ as is claimed by it?” the Strategic Force of the North’s Korean People’s Army, or K.P.A., said in a statement. “It is a daydream for the U.S. to think that its mainland is an invulnerable Heavenly kingdom.”
“The U.S. should clearly face up to the fact that the ballistic rockets of the Strategic Force of the K.P.A. are now on constant standby, facing the Pacific Ocean and pay deep attention to their azimuth angle for launch,” the statement said.
Mr. Trump’s stark comments went well beyond the firm but measured language typically preferred by American presidents in confronting North Korea, and indeed seemed almost to echo the bellicose words used by Mr. Kim. Whether that message was mainly a bluff or an authentic expression of intent, it instantly scrambled the diplomatic equation in one of the world’s most perilous regions.
Supporters suggested that Mr. Trump was trying to get Mr. Kim’s attention in a way that the North Korean leader would understand, while critics expressed concern that the American president could stumble into a war with devastating consequences.
“This is a more dangerous moment than faced by Trump’s predecessors,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit group in Washington. “The normal nuanced diplomatic rhetoric coming out of Washington hasn’t worked in persuading the Kim regime of American resolve. This language underscores that the most powerful country in the world has its own escalatory and retaliatory options.”
But Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said it would be counterproductive. “President Trump is not helping the situation with his bombastic comments,” she said in a statement. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, also took exception. “All it’s going to do is bring us closer to some kind of serious confrontation,” he told KTAR News radio.
North Korea has accelerated its progress toward a…