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By Jordan Damond, East County Magazine

ECM Editor Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

Image: North Korea News Agency

August 9, 2017 (San Diego) -- “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States," President Trump told reporters yesterday at the Bedminster, N.J. retreat where he is vacationing. "They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”   (View AP video.)  The remarks came in response to growing threats by  North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

But Trump’s strong though inflammatory statement triggered a response by North Korea threatening to attack Guam, where U.S. has a military base, with “enveloping fire,” CBS reports.

A statement made by the Korean People's Army to the state-run news agency KCNA states, "Such military maneuvers of the U.S. may provoke a dangerous conflict under the present extremely acute situation prevailing on the Korean peninsula." The  Korean statement warned that American should "...immediately stop its reckless military provocation against the state of the DPRK so that the latter would not be forced to make an unavoidable military choice."

Trump’s statements following a ratcheting up of concerns after recent  North Korean test bombing  indicated North Korea may now be capable of launching missiles capable of reaching most of the U.S., including west coast cities such as San Diego or Los Angeles, some experts have indicated although the missile broke up before landing.

Now the Defense Intelligence Agency has confirmed that North Korea is close to having full fledged nuclear power capable of targeting the United States, the Washington Post reports.  North Korea has  successfully figured out the method for miniaturizing nuclear warheads that can be mounted on ballistic missiles.

His words are reminiscent of President Harry Truman. After dropping the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Truman warned that if Japanese leaders would not accept U.S. terms of surrender, “they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”  Soon after, Truman ordered a second nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

Many members of Congress in both parties have sharply disagreed with Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric.

Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement  which reads, ““President Trump’s comments were not helpful and once again show that he lacks the temperament and judgement to deal with the serious crisis the United States confronts.  We should not be engaging in the same kind of blustery and provocative statements as North Korea about nuclear war. No one should think that a conflict with North Korea will be a quick little glorious war, or be tempted by false hopes that North Korea’s nuclear program can be destroyed with a single antiseptic surgical strike.”

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, told KTAR TV, "I take exception to the President's comments because you've got to be sure that you can do what you say you're going to do,” adding, "The great leaders I've seen don't threaten unless they're ready to act and I'm not sure President Trump is ready to act."

But local Congressman Darrell Issa (R-San Diego), who serves on the House Committee of Foreign Affairs,  defended Trump’s response, CBS news reports.  ““I think when somebody says they're going to preemptively hit [the U.S.] with a nuclear weapon, the response that ‘You will not regret it because you will be gone,’ is an appropriate response.”  

But Issa also suggested that sanctions tightened up by the international community could dissuade North Korea’s leader from launching a nuclear warhead.  He cited  “the measured responses that are going on by the entire world- the 15-0 security council vote, China and Russia joining us in real sanctions, news today that Chinese companies who have been processing seafood in North Korea are closing up and pulling out” as positive signs that sanctions are taking hold and could convince Kim Jong-un that the best way to maintain power and avoid a military coup would be to show restraint, not be baited to begin a nuclear war.

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