Donald Trump’s warning that North Korea faces ‘fire and fury’ over its nuclear arms plans came from an unlikely location… his own golf course.
The US president was giving a briefing on opioid addiction during what he has called a 17-day ‘working holiday’ at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, when he went off-topic to threaten North Korea.
Mr Trump said: ‘North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.’
His words were his sternest yet on the issue, and followed a report that US intelligence believes Pyongyang has successfully produced a nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.
Just hours after Mr Trump’s comments, North Korea said it is considering missile strikes on the US pacific island of Guam, home to Andersen Air Force Base.
Mr Trump has repeatedly rejected the idea he is having a relaxing August getaway, posting on Twitter over the weekend: ‘This is not a vacation – meetings and calls!’
His staff have called his trip a ‘working vacation’.
But there are concerns from US politicians about Mr Trump’s approach to the presidency, and his threat to North Korea.
Democrat representative Ted Lieu, who has proposed a bill that would require congress approval for a nuclear first strike, asked his followers on Twitter: ‘Do reckless comments of @realDonaldTrump scare you?’
Since he became president, there have been concerns about Mr Trump’s attitude to the House of Representatives and the Senate – in May, he called their rules ‘archaic’.
Mr Trump said: ‘We don’t have a lot of closers in politics, and I understand why: It’s a very rough system. It’s an archaic system.
‘You look at the rules of the Senate, even the rules of the House — but the rules of the Senate and some of the things you have to go through — it’s really a bad thing for the country, in my opinion.’
Meanwhile, a nuclear expert who has made repeated visits to North Korea’s nuclear facilities said he doubted the country was yet capable of attacking Guam with medium to long-range missiles.
Siegfried Hecker, a professor at Stanford University’s Centre for International Security and Co-operation, said that escalating rhetoric from North Korea and the US was the real danger.
He said the real threat was ‘stumbling into an inadvertent nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula by misunderstanding or miscalculation’.
He added: ‘Inflammatory rhetoric on both sides will make that more likely.’
Authorities in Guam are reassuring citizens that the US territory is safe, following North Korea’s claim that it is examining its plan for ‘making an enveloping fire’ around the strategically important Pacific island.