President-elect Donald Trump responded Monday to North Korea's vow to develop a nuclear weapon that could reach the continental United States with a curt, "It won't happen!"
Trump's tweet was a response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who during a New Year's Day address to his people, said North Korea "will continue to strengthen its ability based on nuclear might to mount a pre-emptive attack."
Kim indicated North Korea is close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, which, if tipped with a nuclear warhead, could threaten the United States. But many experts insist North Korea is years away from that capability, Reuters reported.
Kim has made development of the communist country's nuclear program a priority since taking over in 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong Il. The United States has pressed unsuccessfully to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
Trump also took a slap at China, North Korea's only friend in the region, on Twitter for not being more involved in trying to tamp down Kim's nuclear efforts.
It was unclear in Trump's tweet, whether he means North Korea will be unsuccessful in its efforts, or whether the United States under his leadership would make sure North Korea fails.
Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News Channel's "Special Report" the press should be sure to ask him for clarification.
"If he means a pre-emptive attack by the United States or something of that sort, we are looking at a crisis of the ultimate proportions," Krauthammer said.
"All I am saying is he's aware of the fact that we are looking at what could be a strategic point in history. That would be serious," Krauthammer said, noting North Korea is led by "an insane regime with the ability to push a button and wipe out a U.S. city."
Though the Chinese and Russians have posed similar threats, he said, "they are not insane."
North Korea will view Trump's tweet as an "imminent threat," author Gordon Chang told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "I don't know how the Chinese will look at it. There is a dynamic here. Once Kim starts to do things, China may feel it has to support it, because the Chinese military is very, very strongly in favor of helping the North Koreans. We know what happened in 1950."
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was asked about the tweet by MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews.
"He will confer with his generals," Conway said, but she would not get into specifics, saying, "We're not going to make foreign policy on your show tonight."
Conway said the nuclear threat is part of President Barack Obama's legacy, pointing to his administration's nuclear deal with Iran that drew criticism from Republicans.
"When you say the world is a dangerous place, it didn't just happen," Conway said. "It's because of a lot of action and inaction, and the fact that President-elect Trump through his media platform is telling 44 million people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram combined that he intends to stop it. And he will."
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