President Trump used his harshest language yet to warn North Korea on Tuesday that it will be “met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before,” if it does not stop threatening the United States.
“North Korea best not make any more threats,” Trump told reporters at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where he is vacationing. Saying that the threats had gone “beyond a normal state,” he twice repeated the “fire and fury” warning.
It was not immediately clear what Trump was responding to. A North Korean military spokesman said Tuesday that Pyongyang was considering a plan to fire missiles at Guam and that it would carry out a preemptive strike if there were any signs of U.S. provocation, Reuters reported, quoting state media.
Earlier in the day, North Korea said it would “ruthlessly take strategic measures involving physical actions,” in the wake of new economic sanctions approved Saturday by the U.N. Security Council. On Monday, Pyongyang threatened retaliation against the United States “thousands of times.”
Trump’s statement also followed a report in The Washington Post that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its ballistic missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. The report quoted a confidential assessment by U.S. intelligence officials.
The unanimous U.N. sanctions vote, banning key North Korean exports, came after two tests last month of long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States.
Trump’s comments drew criticism from senior lawmakers. “The great leaders I’ve seen don’t threaten unless they’re ready to act, and I’m not sure President Trump is ready to act,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) told a Phoenix radio station.
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) said the remarks were “not helpful and once again show that he lacks the temperament and judgment” to deal with a serious crisis. “We should not be engaging in the same kind of blustery and provocative statements as North Korea about nuclear war.”
The escalated rhetoric and talk of war came as the administration is trying to push North Korea toward direct talks that, despite its earlier pushes for such a dialogue, Pyongyang now shows no sign of wanting.
“The strategy has been pretty clear, ” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the…