Trump warns NKorea that USA is 'locked and loaded'

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives at a military base in Subang Malaysia Tuesday Aug. 8 2017

"And for people who say this is going to somehow rattle North Korea, nothing rattles them".

The newly public report from USA intelligence agencies seemed to spur Trump, but Tillerson called for full steam ahead on his policy of "peaceful pressure", after a series of meetings at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila, the Philippines.

Before Trump's election, the Obama administration supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to emphasize its regional commitment and also to push back on China's growing power and presence, which is a concern for many ASEAN states.

On the political front too, the administration has only limited affinity with ASEAN allies.

Gorka's comments about Tillerson raised eyebrows in part because of the dissonant messaging on North Korea, which continued Thursday.

The North Korean Government stated that they are "seriously examining a plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.". "Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!"

In this context, Tillerson used the weekend gathering of the ASEAN regional forum, Asia's biggest security group that also includes "outside" nations such as the United States, North Korea and Japan, to try to isolate Pyongyang by "drastically" reducing their dealings with it. Trump, responding to a report that US intelligence indicates Pyongyang can now put a nuclear warhead on its long-range missiles, vowed to rain down "fire and fury" if challenged.

Along with this sanctions diplomacy, the United States and South Korea conducted their latest tests last month of the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system.

"China can bring North Korea to its knees".

Recent US rhetoric has heightened worldwide concerns that Trump might now be thinking more seriously about a pre-emptive strike on Pyongyang's nuclear facilities.

On Tuesday, Trump delivered remarks about North Korea - words we now know to have been off the cuff - that pushed the world toward a nuclear standoff last seen in the Cuban missile crisis: "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States". "I am looking at two-state, and one-state", he said.

Trump administration officials haven't been on the same page about North Korea.

The call came after Trump unleashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea on Friday, declaring the USA military "locked and loaded" and warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he "will regret it fast" if he takes any action against US territories or allies. "We never do. I don't talk about it", Trump told reporters when asked about a preemptive strike.

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