North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is backing off on his threat to fire missiles at the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, according to a new report. But he warned that he could still change his mind while he waits to see what the “foolish Yankees” do next.
The comments, published in North Korea’s state media, KCNA on Tuesday, came after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned that if North Korea fired on US territory, it would be “game on.”
Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday: “You don’t shoot at people in this world unless you want to bear the consequences.”
According to KCNA, Kim had “examined the (strike) plan for a long time and discussed it with the commanding officers in real earnest.”
Putting the onus to act on Trump, the report let Kim save face by saying that he plans to “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.”
“If the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous, reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the restraint of the DPRK [North Korea], the [North] will make an important decision as it already declared,” Kim said, according to the country’s state media as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The report is probably making reference to the US joint military drills with South Korea, known as the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), which are scheduled to begin Aug. 21. The exercises are conducted every year to test the integration of U.S. and South Korean forces. UFG typically incorporates an additional 200 to 300 U.S. troops.
U.S. defense officials said the exercise isn’t expected to amount to a large show of force, and there are no plans for expansion under the current circumstances.
However, the annual 10-day military drills always antagonize North Korea, as Kim believes they are preparations for an invasion. Seoul and Washington say the exercises are defensive in nature.
The situation began last Tuesday, Aug. 8, when, after yet another defiant and threatening ballistic missile test by the communist dictator, President Trump warned that North Korea will be met with “fire, fury and power, the likes of which this world has never seen before” if it makes any more threats to the United States.
North Korea responded by threatening to attack Guam, saying an attack plan could be in place by mid-August.
President Trump’s critics came out in full-force, stating that his threats against North Korea were too harsh. It will be interesting to see what they say now.
Trump last week stated:
“Maybe it wasn’t tough enough. It’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries. So, if anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough. And we’re backed 100 percent by our military, we’re backed by everybody and we’re backed by many other leaders.”
In terms of what could be tougher than “fire and fury,” according to a USA Today report, Trump said only: “You’ll see. You’ll see.”
Trump said he would consider negotiations with North Korea and declined to discuss the possibility of a preemptive strike against Pyongyang. “We don’t talk about that. We never do.”
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