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US ‘locked & loaded’: Trump
President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted that the US military is “locked and loaded” as he warned North Korea against threatening the US, escalating an exchange of threats between the nuclear-armed nations.
American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month that North Korea, which has laid out plans to strike near the US territory of Guam, claims are a rehearsal for war.
Trump tweeted, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
Two days after North Korea laid out its plans to strike near Guam with unsettling specificity, there was no observable march toward combat, despite the angry rhetoric from both sides. US officials said there was no major movement of US military assets to the region, nor were there signs Pyongyang was actively preparing for war.
As it is, the US has a robust military presence in the region, including six B-1 bombers in Guam and Air Force fighter jet units in South Korea, plus other assets across the Pacific Ocean and in the skies above. Washington’s vast military options range from nothing to a full-on conventional assault by air, sea and ground forces. Any order by the president could be executed quickly.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded Friday to Trump’s tweet, saying she sees no military solution to North Korea crisis. Merkel declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea. She said, “I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for.”
Merkel called on the UN Security Council to continue to address the issue. She added, “I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer.”
The US-South Korea exercises are an annual event, but they come as Pyongyang says it is readying a plan to fire off four Hwasong-12 missiles toward the tiny island, which is US territory and major military hub. The plan would be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval just before or as the US-South Korea drills begin.
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