Aust to aid US if North Korea attacks: PM2:22
The Prime Minister says Australia will come to the aid of the US in the event of an attack by North Korea.
US President Donald Trump may be talking tough on North Korea, but he’s refusing to answer the biggest question of all: is he prepared to go to war?
Mr Trump warned the nuclear-armed hermit state the US military was “locked and loaded” and warned leader Kim Jong-un he would “regret it fast” if he took any action against the US territory of Guam.
But when quizzed on whether he was prepared to follow through on his threats, Mr Trump answered cryptically: “I think you know the answer to that.”
After days of fiery rhetoric on the part of Mr Trump — slammed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as simply “wrong” — President Trump will now hold talks with his Chinese counterpart about what to do next.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, estimated the risk of a military conflict between the US and North Korea as “very high,” and said Moscow was deeply concerned.
“When you get close to the point of a fight, the one who is stronger and wiser should be the first to step back from the brink,” Lavrov said Friday. “I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer,” Merkel added. “Let her speak for Germany,” Trump said, when asked about the comment. “Perhaps she is referring to Germany. She’s certainly not referring to the United States, that I can tell you.”
Speaking to reporters at his New Jersey golf club, Mr Trump said he would call Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss its efforts to contain its rogue neighbour. “That phone call (with Xi) will take place tonight,” Mr Trump said. “We have been working very closely with China and with other countries.”
The phone call will come as Mr Trump says North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will “regret it and regret it fast” if he attacks the US air bases in Guam or any of America’s allies.
Mr Trump’s latest threat comes after he declared on Friday via Twitter that the US military was “locked and loaded”, and ready to act against the rogue regime.
With tensions growing, Guam’s Office of Civil Defense began disseminating information on Friday to help residents prepare for a missile attack from North Korea. The fact sheet, titled “Preparing for an Imminent Missile Threat”, said if an attack warning is issued, residents should take cover quickly — in a concrete structure, preferably underground — and stay there until instructed otherwise.
Other tips include building an emergency kit and reminders about keeping calm.
The missile threat prep fact sheet also offers scary advice for those caught outside during a missile attack. “Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the fact sheet reads. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head.”
Details on removing radioactive material from the skin was also addressed. “When possible, take a shower with lots of soap and water to help remove radioactive contamination,” the fact sheet reads. “Do not use conditioner in your hair because it will bind radioactive material to your hair.”
Also read: Australia will 'not be cowed' by North Korea
While Guam Governor Eddie Calvo said the terriroty has many buildings made to withstand powerful typhoons, he acknowledged that nothing can protect against a thermonuclear attack.
Mr Trump has since elaborated on his tweet. “I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said and what I said is what I mean, so hopefully they’ll understand exactly what I said and the meaning of those words,” he told reporters. “Those words are very easy to understand.”
In reference to Mr Kim, he added “this man will not get away with what he’s doing, believe me”.
“If he utters one threat in the form of an over threat, which by the way he has been uttering for years, or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that’s an American territory or American ally, he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”
While Mr Trump talks up the US’s military might, his lieutenants have been attempting to diffuse the situation via diplomatic backchannels, but the President declined to discuss these tactics.
“We don’t want to talk about progress, we don’t want to talk about backchannels, we want to talk about a country that has misbehaved for many, many years — decades actually — through numerous administrations and they didn’t want to take on the issue and I have no choice but to take it on and I’m taking it on,” Mr Trump said.
“We’ll either be very, very successful quickly or we’re going to be very, very successful in a different way quickly.”
In response to Mrs Merkel’s criticism, Mr Trump said: “Let her speak for Germany.”
Politicians from both sides of American politics have criticised Mr Trump’s approach to the conflict — especially his threat to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea — saying his comments have raised the tension.
“If somebody else uttered the exact same words that I uttered they’d say, ‘What a great statement, what a wonderful statement’.
“But I will tell you we have tens of millions of people in this country that are so happy with what I’m saying because they’re saying, ‘Finally we have a president that’s sticking up for our nation and frankly sticking up for our friends and our allies’.”
Also on Friday, Mr Trump retweeted a US Pacific Command message that said US planes stand ready to “fulfil a #FightTonight mission”.
The threats follow a week of escalating rhetoric between the two countries after the US threatened “fire and fury” against the rogue state.
North Korea retaliated by releasing potential plans to strike the US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific, however US diplomats say a dialogue is being pursued and Americans should “sleep well” at night.
The country’s official Korean Central News Agency reported on a mass rally held in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square and cited the secretary of the Pyongyang City Youth League Committee as saying “the young people in the country would become five million human bullets and bombs and nuclear warheads to blow the US from this planet”.
Meanwhile Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia would come to the aid of the United States if North Korea attacks America.
“We have an ANZUS agreement and if there is an attack on Australia or the US then each of us will come to the other’s aid,” he told 3AW.
“Australia will come to the aid of the US just as if there was an attack on Australia, the US would come to our aid.”
Despite the rhetoric, US officials said there was no major movement of U.S. military assets to the region, nor were there signs Pyongyang was actively preparing for war.
Military officials will move ahead with planned drills between the US and South Korea. Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run from August 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air.
Washington and Seoul say the exercises are defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.
The exercises were scheduled well before tensions began to rise over President Donald Trump’s increasingly fiery rhetoric and North Korea’s announcement of the missile plan, which if carried out would be its most provocative launch yet.
The streets of Pyongyang also reportedly remain calm amid rising tension in the region.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she doesn’t see a military solution to rising tensions between the United States and North Korea and called for a de- escalation of the rhetoric.
Asked Friday about U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest statements, 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.”
MrTrump has also said he is mulling over military options as a response to the escalating crisis in Venezuela.
Washington has slapped sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro and some of his allies, branding him a “dictator” over his attempts to crush his country’s opposition. Venezuela has in turn accused America of “imperialist aggression.”
While speaking to reporters about North Korea, Venezuela’s political crisis was also discussed.
“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary,” he said.
“We have troops all over the world in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and they’re dying.
“Venezuela is a mess. It is very dangerous mess and a very sad situation,”
Mr Trump’s warning came two days after his administration imposed new sanctions on Venezuela, targeting members of a loyalist assembly installed last week to bolster what Washington calls Maduro’s “dictatorship”.
The Venezuelan government responded to the sanctions — which already targeted Maduro himself — by saying the US was “making a fool of itself in front of the world.”