President Donald Trump said Thursday that his “fire and fury” warning to North Korea was possibly not tough enough and added that if they don’t “get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations ever have been in trouble in this world.”
Trump made the comments at Bedminster in New Jersey ahead of a meeting with his national security team on the North Korea issue. The president said his comments to North Korea were the first time they’ve heard such talk from the United States.
You can watch his full comments below:
Trump was asked about the reaction to his “fire and fury” comments from North Korea.
“Frankly, the people questioning that statement, was it too tough, maybe it wasn’t tough enough. They’ve been doing this to our country a long time, for many years. And it’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and the people of other countries,” Trump said. “So if anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough and we’re backed by 100 percent by our military, we’re backed by everybody. And we’re backed by many other leaders. I noticed that many senators and others came out today very much in favor of what I said. But if anything that statement may not be tough enough.”
When asked by a reporter what would be tougher than “fire and fury,” the president answered, “Well, you’ll see, you’ll see.”
Trump was also asked if he’s considering a pre-emptive strike.
“We don’t talk about that, we never do. Not like the other administration that would say ‘we’re going into Mosul in four months,'” Trump said, referring to President Barack Obama’s administration and its plans to fight ISIS in Iraq. “We’ll see what happens. But I can tell you that what they’ve been doing, and what they’ve been getting away with is a tragedy and it can’t be allowed.”
Trump said they would consider negotiations, but added that talks have been ongoing for 25 years, criticizing how President Bill Clinton and Obama handled North Korea.
“Look at Clinton, he folded on the negotiations. He was weak and ineffective. Look what happened with Bush. Look what happened with Obama,” Trump said. “Obama, he didn’t even want to talk about it. But I talk. It’s about time. Somebody has to do it, somebody has to do it.”
Trump said there are not “mixed messages” coming out of his administration on North Korea, downplaying claims that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is advocating for diplomacy while Secretary of Defense General James Mattis is calling for military action.
“There are no mixed messages,” Trump responded. “There are no mixed messages. To be honest, General Mattis may have taken it a step beyond what I said. There are no mixed messages. Rex was just stating the view. Look, here’s the view. I said it yesterday, I don’t have to say it again. And I’ll tell you this, it may be tougher than I said it, not less. It may very well be tougher than I said.”
Trump was referring to Mattis’ statement in which he said:
The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.
President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.
Tillerson, meanwhile, told reporters, “What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language. I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime that the U.S. has the unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies, and I think it was important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part.”
Trump made the “fire and fury” comments on Tuesday, after reports that North Korea had possibly produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.
“North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met be met by fire and fury, like the world has never seen,” Trump said, sitting with his arms crossed and speaking to reporters. “He has been very threatening, beyond a normal statement. And as I said, they will be met by fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you.”
The North Korean statement said “sound dialogue” is not possible with Trump because he is “bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him.” The statement also called Trump’s “fire and fury” comments a “load of nonsense.”
Trump, during his remarks to reporters Thursday, was asked to offer assurance to the American people who are anxious about North Korea.
“The people of this country should be very comfortable,” Trump said. “And I will tell you this, if North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attack, of anybody that we love or that we represent or our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous, I’ll tell you what. And they should be very nervous. Because things will happen to them like they never thought possible. OK? He’s been pushing the world around for a long time. And I have great respect for what China and what Russia did and those 15, we got a 15 to nothing vote. I have great respect for China and Russia, what they did on sanctions. I believe that will have an effect. I don’t think it will have the kind of effect, even though I was the one, we were the ones who got it. And Nikki Haley did a great job. We all did a great job. But I have great respect for what they did. I have great respect for the 15 to nothing, but probably it will not be as effective as a lot of people think it can be, unfortunately.”
Trump also said that “China can do a lot more,” beyond the sanctions secured by the UN Security Council last weekend. “And I think China will do a lot more.”
The president concluded, “The people of our country are safe. Our allies are safe. And I will tell you this, North Korea better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations ever have been in trouble in this world.”