ANTAGONISM between the US and North Korea escalated further today after Donald Trump tweeted that the military forces under his command were ‘locked and loaded’.
Two days after Pyongyang laid out its plans to carry out a ballistic missile strike near the Pacific island of Guam, a US territory, officials from the White House and South Korea announced they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month.
This morning President Trump (pictured above) tweeted: ‘Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!’
Commentators on the ground have noted that there has not been any observable march toward combat on either side, despite the exchanges of angry rhetoric.
US officials said there was no major movement of its 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.
Meanwhile, Guam’s homeland security agency issued a fact sheet on Friday with tips for residents to prepare for any missile threat.
The information states: ‘Do not look at the flash or fireball – it can blind you.
‘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.’
World leaders have offered mixed responses to the crisis.
Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said his nation would be prepared to join a conflict against North Korea if the US came under attack, but German chancellor Angela Merkel declined to make the same pledge.
At home, Jeremy Corbyn has urged Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to ‘calm down’.
The Labour leader said you ‘cannot play fast and loose with nuclear weapons’, adding that Britain and other powers had a role to play in easing tensions.
‘All the five declared nuclear weapons states, which includes the US, Russia and China, as well as Britain and France, need to get on board on this to bring North Korea back from the brink, bring Donald Trump back from the brink, and support the NPT (the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons) and support the UN’s efforts to make nuclear weapons illegal worldwide,’ he said.