Is Donald Trump's nuclear rhetoric causing problems?
By Joe Harker
US President Donald Trump has ramped up the rhetoric surrounding the American nuclear arsenal. Relations between the US and North Korea are at a low point with both countries threatening one another and President Trump seems keen to get the message out that the US has a devastating array of nuclear weapons it can use.
Trump used a photo opportunity at the Trump National Golf Club to say North Korea should not make any more threats or it will "face fire and fury like the world has never seen". North Korea has been threatening to strike the US military base on Guam, while US intelligence analysts believe they have developed a miniaturised nuclear warhead capable of reaching the island, which has a population on 162,000.
The Washington Post reports that President Trump has been taking credit for a more modern and dangerous nuclear arsenal, with him claiming that the US's nuclear weapons have been improved since he took office. This is untrue, as America's nuclear weapons were improved during Barack Obama's presidency, but Trump may simply be saying it to remind North Korea that he has control of a larger and more technologically advanced nuclear arsenal. Trump's comments are unlikely to de-escalate the situation as North Korea seem undeterred by America's nuclear weapons, which they likely already knew about.
The increasingly dangerous rhetoric being used by President Trump may harm an attempt at calming the situation, particularly when not all members of his government are saying the same thing. Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State, has been attempting to dial back some of the harsher comments being made by his President. A more diplomatic stance might help bring the situation back from the brink of war, but mixed messages make Trump seem to be a loose cannon and his administration to be conflicted. Tillerson said: "Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours. Americans should sleep well at night.
"I think what the President was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language."
China are seen as key to responding to North Korea, but they have warned President Trump not to "play with fire" by escalating tensions. Chinese national press says the "threatening rhetoric" from North Korea cannot be taken lightly, but criticised "sabre rattling" from both sides as the biggest obstacle to resolving the situation.
Is Trump's nuclear rhetoric harmful to the escalating situation with North Korea, or will his comments scare them into submission?