President Trump refused Sunday to rule out military retaliation against North Korea over its latest — and most potent — nuclear test, saying only, “We’ll see,” when asked if the US would strike the rogue nation.
Hours later, the White House raised the specter of America’s own atomic arsenal, saying Trump had spoken with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about their mutual enemy’s new provocation.
The president pledged to protect “our homeland, territories, and allies using the full range of diplomatic, conventional, and nuclear capabilities at our disposal.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis also warned North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un to “take heed” of the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous opposition to his nuclear-weapons program.
“Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming,” Mattis said.
His vow followed an emergency White House meeting at which Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were briefed on what Mattis called the “many military options” available to the commander-in-chief in the wake of the hermit kingdom’s first nuclear blast since his election.
“We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said, we have many options to do so,” Mattis said.
Trump’s “We’ll see” comment came in response to a reporter’s question as he left St. John’s Church near the White House on what he had proclaimed the National Day of Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey.
About 45 minutes later, he tweeted, “The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.”
That alert appeared to be aimed at China, which has long been North Korea’s main economic partner and since the imposition of UN sanctions now accounts for more than 90 percent of all trade with the outlaw regime.
Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that North Korea — which claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb — “has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”
The president also lashed out at South Korea, whose recently elected…