Trump, asked if he’d attack North Korea, says: ‘We’ll see’

By ERIC TALMADGE and

CATHERINE LUCEY

Associated Press

TOKYO — North Korea on Sunday claimed a “perfect success” for its most powerful nuclear test so far, a further step in the development of weapons capable of striking anywhere in the United States. President Donald Trump, asked if he would attack the North, said, “We’ll see.”

The latest provocation from the isolated communist country reinforces the danger facing America, Trump had said earlier in a series of tweets, adding that “talk of appeasement” is pointless.

“They only understand one thing!” Trump wrote, without elaboration, as he prepared to meet later with his national security team. It was the first nuclear test since Trump took office in January.

Hours later, after attending church in Washington, the president made his “We’ll see” comment in response to a question from reporters.

The precise strength of the explosion, described by state-controlled media in North Korea as a hydrogen bomb, has yet to be determined. South Korea’s weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five times to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North’s previous five such tests. The impact reportedly shook buildings in China and in Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was calling counterparts in Asia, and Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said he was putting together proposed new sanctions for Trump to consider that would seek to cut off trade with North Korea. It’s unclear what kind of penalties might make a difference: Lassina Zerbo, head of the U.N. test ban treaty organization, said sanctions already imposed against North Korea aren’t working.

Trump warned last month that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” and that the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on the North if it continued to threaten America. The bellicose words followed threats from North Korea to launch ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, intending to create “enveloping fire” near the military hub that’s home to U.S. bombers.

The North’s latest test was carried out at 12:29 p.m. local time at the Punggye-ri site where it has conducted past nuclear tests. Officials in Seoul put the magnitude at 5.7; the U.S. Geological Survey said it was a magnitude 6.3. The strongest artificial quake from previous tests was a magnitude 5.3.

“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” Trump said in the first of a series of tweets.