U.S. President Donald Trump warns the U.S. military is ready to respond to any “foolish or reckless act” by North Korea just hours after the president cancelled the forthcoming summit with Kim Jong Un that was set for June 12 in Singapore.
Speaking from the White House, Trump said the military is “ready if necessary,” after he abruptly cancelled the meeting with Kim.
“General Mattis, our joint chiefs of staff and our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world, and has been greatly enhanced recently, is ready if necessary,” Trump said. “Likewise, I’ve spoken to South Korea and Japan, they are not only ready should foolish and reckless acts be taken by North Korea, but they are willing to shoulder much of the cost of any financial burden … by the United States in operations if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us.”
Earlier Thursday, Trump issued a letter stating that “based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”
“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump said.
The announcement came just after North Korea said it had dismantled its nuclear test site. The North said it demolished its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in a series of explosions Thursday, which Kim had said he would do leading up to the June 12 summit with Trump.
South Korean media reported the explosions at the mountainous test site occurred over several hours and had destroyed the North Portal, a tunnel where much of the North’s missile tests stem from. The barracks, observation towers, storage buildings and two other tunnels were also destroyed.
A small group of international media selected by North Korea witnessed the demolition of tunnels at the Punggye-ri site on Thursday.
The North has yet to comment on both the demolition of the test site and the cancellation of the June summit.
Earlier on Thursday, North Korea repeated a threat to pull out of the unprecedented summit with Trump next month and warned it was prepared for a nuclear showdown with Washington if necessary.
In a statement released by North Korean media, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui had called U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” for comparing North Korea — a “nuclear weapons state” — to Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi gave up his unfinished nuclear development program, only to be later killed by NATO-backed fighters.
“U.S. Vice-President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, the military option for North Korea never came off the table, the U.S. needs complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and so on,” Choe was quoted as saying. “As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice-president.”
As South Korea’s Yonhap News agency reports, the foreign minister said before Trump’s announcement, the North’s participation in the summit depends on how the U.S. behaves.
“Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” Choe was quoted as saying.
Trump said the United States would continue its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
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“North Korea has opportunity to end decades of poverty and oppression by following the path of denuclearization and joining the community of nations,” Trump said.
“I hope that Kim Jong Un will ultimately do what is right not only for himself, but perhaps most importantly what’s right for his people, who are suffering greatly and needlessly.”
-with a file from Reuters