We're 'locked and loaded', Trumps tells North Korea

US president steps up his warnings as Guam braces for Pyongyang's threatened missile launches

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, left, and Vice President Mike Pence listen as President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after a security briefing at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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After days of escalating rhetoric Donald Trump went one step further on Friday morning, saying US armed forces were “locked and loaded” to deal with North Korea.

His message, delivered on Twitter, was his most explicit threat yet of military action yet if Pyongyang refused to back down from threatening the United States.

“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong-un will find another path!” he tweeted.

It is the third time in a week that Mr Trump has threatened to use force against Mr Kim's repressive regime but the first time he has used language that evoked weapons being readied.

The rhetoric has ratcheted up all week, first after the UN imposed stiffer sanctions and then after it emerged that North Korean engineers were believed to have miniaturised nuclear devices so they could be fitted to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

For its part, Pyongyang says it is finalising a plan to launch missiles at locations around the US territory of Guam. The Pacific island has issued instruction for residents to protect themselves against missile strikes.

The threat followed comments by Mr Trump that the US would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to threaten the US.