US President Donald Trump has praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for appearing to back down on his threat to launch missiles toward the US territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.
“Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
“The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!”
North Korea said last week it was finalizing plans to launch four missiles into the waters near Guam. The plan was announced after Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea.
However, Kim said Tuesday that his country would not immediately carry the missile attack but warned North Korea would stay fire-ready while keeping a close eye on Washington’s actions.
“If the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the restraint of the DPRK [North Korea], the [North] will make an important decision as it already declared,” Kim said on Tuesday, according to North Korea’s official KCNA news agency.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis warned on Monday that if a missile were to hit Guam, it would be treated as an act of war.
“If they shoot at the United States, I’m assuming they hit the United States. If they do that, it’s game on,” he said speaking at the Pentagon.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated in July, when an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of targeting the US mainland was successfully tested by Pyongyang twice.
Pyongyang says it needs its weapons as a deterrent against US expansionism and to defend its nation in the face of any US aggression.