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Trump warns North Korea: US is locked and loaded

Pentagon says joint military exercise with South Korea on track

Gulf News

Bedminster, New Jersey: US President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea on Friday, saying what he called US military solutions were “locked and loaded” as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.

Russia, China and Germany expressed alarm at the escalating rhetoric from Pyongyang and Washington, while the Pentagon said the US and South Korea would move ahead as planned with a joint military exercise in 10 days, an action sure to further antagonise North Korea.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday said his government would back the US if North Korea attacked.

Japan moved missile interceptors into position after the Guam threat, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

China, North Korea’s only major ally, called on both countries to avoid the “old road” of escalating hostilities.

Trump, vacationing at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort, kept up the war of words on Twitter and again referenced North Korea’s leader. “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” he wrote. “Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”.

The term ‘locked and loaded’, popularised in the 1949 war film ‘Sands of Iwo Jima’ starring American actor John Wayne, refers to preparations for shooting a gun.

The Republican president’s tweet came shortly after the North Korean state news agency, KCNA, put out a statement blaming him for the boiling tensions.

“Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war, making such outcries as ‘the US will not rule out a war against the DPRK [North Korea],’” KCNA said.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Pyongyang and Washington to sign up to a previously unveiled joint Russian-Chinese plan under which North Korea would freeze missile tests and the US and South Korea would impose a moratorium on large-scale military exercises.

“Unfortunately, the rhetoric in Washington and Pyongyang is now starting to go over the top,” Lavrov said. “We still hope and believe that common sense will prevail.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there is no military solution to the dispute, adding that “an escalation of the rhetoric is the wrong answer”. “I see the need for enduring work at the UN Security Council ... as well as tight cooperation between the countries involved, especially the U.S. and China,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

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