President Trump warned Friday that if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatens the United States or takes action against Guam, “he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast.”
Expounding on his early morning tweet that U.S. forces were “locked and loaded” for a potential military face-off with the reclusive, nuclear-armed nation, Trump told reporters at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club that U.S. action would be “very, very successful quickly.”
Later on Friday, Trump also raised the specter of military action in Venezuela, saying: “We have many options for Venezuela, and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option.”
After meeting with U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump said the situation in Venezuela was a “mess” after last week’s installation by President Nicolas Maduro of a new legislative body with broad powers to rewrite the South American nation’s constitution. Trump and other Latin American leaders agree that the result is a dictatorship.
“This is our neighbor,” Trump said. “We’re all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering, and they’re dying.”
The president did not answer questions about whether he wanted regime change there or in North Korea.
Trump refused to discuss any back-channel diplomatic overtures with North Korea, which the Associated Press reported have been ongoing over the past few months. But he did say the U.S. was considering sanctions against Pyongyang that are “as strong as they get.”
He planned to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping later Friday evening and said he remained hopeful the standoff with North Korea “will all work out” with a “peaceful solution.”
But as he has done all week, the president appeared more eager to herald U.S. military readiness. Asked what he meant by his earlier “locked and loaded” tweet, Trump said, “I think it’s pretty obvious.” Earlier this week, Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury.”
“I hope they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said, and what I said is what I mean,” Trump said. “So hopefully, they (North Korea) will understand…. Those words are very, very easy to understand.”
Without mentioning him by name, Trump cautioned North Korea’s 33-year-old leader.
“This man will not get away with what he is doing, believe me,” the president said.
“And if he utters one threat, in the form of an overt threat – which, by the way, he has been uttering for years, and his family has been uttering for years – or if he does anything with respect to Guam, or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”
Tillerson, standing next to Trump later Friday, said he and the president were on the same page. “What the president is doing is trying to support our efforts by making sure North Korea understands what the stakes are,” he said.
Trump also said German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s warning earlier Friday that there could be no military solution to the North Korean situation wasn’t true. Merkel said “an escalation of rhetoric (is) the wrong answer,” at a Berlin press conference.
“Perhaps she is referring to Germany,” Trump responded. “She’s certainly not referring to the United States, that I can tell you.”
Trump holds a proclamation for Made in America Day and Made In America Week that he signed during a product showcase in the East Room of the White House on July 17, 2017. Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House on June 14, 2017, to talk about the shooting in Alexandria, Va., where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others were shot during a congressional baseball practice. Andrew Harnik, AP
Trump smiles as he walks with his daughter Ivanka across the South Lawn of the White House on June 13, 2017, before boarding Marine One helicopter for the trip to nearby Andrews Air Force Base. Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
President Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional Republicans celebrate in the Rose Garden of the White House following the House vote to repeal Obamacare on May 4, 2017. Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke listens while Trump speaks before signing an executive order to review the Antiquities Act at the Department of the Interior on April 26, 2017. Brendan Smialowski, AFP/Getty Images
Trump prepares to award a Purple Heart to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos, with first lady Melania Trump, right, and Tammy Barrientos, second from right, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on April 22, 2017, in Bethesda, Md. Alex Brandon, AP
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, President Trump, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Patriots President Jonathan Kraft stand with Patriots players as Trump holds a team helmet at a ceremony honoring the Patriots as Super Bowl champions on the South Lawn at the White House on April 19, 2017. Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
President Trump, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Vice President Pence, speaks about the health care overhaul bill on March 24, 2017, in the Oval Office. Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
Trump gets in the driver’s seat of an 18-wheeler while meeting with truck drivers and trucking CEOs on the South Portico prior to their meeting to discuss health care at the White House on March 23, 2017. Jim Lo Scalzo, European Pressphoto Agency
Trump holds a NASA flight jacket presented to him by NASA Astronaut Office Chief Chris Cassidy after signing the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 in the Oval Office on March 21, 2017. Bill Ingalls, NASA/Getty Images
Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk down the Cross Hall to enter the East Room for a joint press conference at the White House on March 17, 2017. Michael Reynolds, European Pressphoto Agency
Trump holds up a note and drawing depicting him that was created by the child of Greg Knox of Ohio during a meeting on health care in the Roosevelt Room on March 13, 2017. MIchael Reynolds, Pool, Getty Images
Trump walks with grandchildren Arabella Kushner and Joseph Kushner, holding a model of Marine One, across the South Lawn of the White House on March 3, 2017, before boarding Marine One helicopter for the short flight to nearby Andrews Air Force Base. Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
Trump reaches out to shake hands with Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 20, 2017, where Trump announced that McMaster will be the new national security adviser. Susan Walsh, AP
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich speaks during a meeting with Trump on Feb. 8, 2017, where Intel announced an investment of $7 billion to build a factory in Chandler, Ariz., to create advanced semi-conductor chips. Chris Kleponis, Pool/European Pressphoto Agency
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Vice President Pence look on as Trump speaks briefly to reporters after greeting Harley Davidson executives on the South Lawn of the White House on Feb. 2, 2017. Drew Angerer, Getty Images
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell watch as President Trump arrives to speak to House and Senate GOP lawmakers at the annual policy retreat in Philadelphia on Jan. 26, 2017. Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
Trump reads from one of the executive orders he signed during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security with Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and other officials in Washington on Jan. 25, 2017. Chip Somodevilla, Pool/European Pressphoto Agency
President Trump holds a letter left for him by former president Barack Obama as Vice President Pence looks on before the swearing-in of the White House senior staff on Jan. 22, 2017. Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images
Trump is joined by the congressional leadership and his family as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law in the Presidents Room of the Senate on Jan. 20, 2017. J. Scott Applewhite, Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports