PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Concerns are growing over escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea as the communist regime is threatening to attack Guam – a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean.
The small island has two military bases and houses thousands of American troops.
President Donald Trump is touting the United States nuclear arsenal amid an ongoing standoff with North Korea as both sides are using fiery rhetoric.
“They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said on Tuesday.
Within hours, the communist nation responded as the army issues a statement, saying it is examining plans to make “an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam.”
The Associated Press reports that North Korea’s military called the president’s threat a “load of nonsense” and that “only absolute force” can work on Trump. The AP also reports that North Korea says it will complete a plan to attack the waters near Guam by mid-August and then wait for their commander in chief’s order.
U.S. analysts say North Korea has made a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on top of a ballistic missile, with the potential to travel thousands of miles.
“It’s the goal of the American president to stop North Korea from having an ICBM that can hit America with a nuclear weapon on top. He would go to war to prevent that,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.
On Twitter Wednesday morning, Trump said his first order as president was to “renovate and modernize” America’s nuclear arsenal, and that it is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before. He went on to say he hopes to never use that power.
Some Trump administration critics are saying the president needs to tone down the rhetoric, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is defending Trump’s tough talk.
“What the president was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un would understand,” said Tillerson.
Tillerson made those comments on his way to a refueling stop in Guam. He says he’s not worried about the North Korean threats and Americans shouldn’t lose any sleep.
However, Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pennsylvania, says diplomatic negotiations with North Korea and Kim Jong-un should be the priority.
“Assuming he is a rational actor, if we could go into a direct bilateral negotiation and guarantee that we would not pursue a regime change, it seems to me that we should give that a shot before we would have to preemptively strike their ICBMs,” said Boyle.
Allies of the U.S. are stepping up as a United Nations representative to the United Kingdom says, “The United Kingdom stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States tackling this threat and many others.”