In a menacing tweet early Friday, President Donald Trump said the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” in the event of war with North Korea.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” Trump said. “Hopefully Kim Jong-un will find another path!”
The use of the “locked and loaded” term for being a trigger squeeze away from firing indicated Trump is ignoring the advice of allies and, reportedly, top advisers to tone down the rhetoric in an effort to defuse the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said war on the peninsula would be “catastrophic” but it is his duty to have U.S. forces prepared.
However, Mattis stressed that the effort led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley “has diplomatic traction, it is gaining diplomatic results.”
Before Trump’s latest remarks, the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s propaganda outlet, said Trump’s bellicose statements are pushing the crisis to the “brink of nuclear war.”
The most immediate concern is the North Korean threat against the U.S. territory of Guam, about 2,100 miles southeast of North Korea. Earlier this week, North Korea said a plan was being drawn up for Kim Jong-un to launch a salvo of four missiles that would splash down within 25 miles of Guam.
On the island, which is home to about 160,000 U.S. citizens, security officials issued a fact sheet that appeared to tell residents how to respond to a nuclear blast, the BBC reported.
“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the fact sheet said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”