President Donald Trump's "fire and fury" warning on Tuesday may contribute to mixed messages to North Korea and U.S. allies in Asia — increasing the risk of miscalculation on the Korean Peninsula, according to U.S. experts.
National security and foreign policy experts say it is critical for the administration to maintain a consistent message on North Korea since wavering on different viewpoints risks alienating key allies South Korea and Japan.
"You have a danger of miscalculation and a danger of escalation," said Bruce Klingner, former deputy division chief for Korea at the Central Intelligence Agency and current senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center.
On Tuesday, North Korea said it would "ruthlessly take strategic measures involving physical actions," according to an official quoted by Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency. The threat followed the United Nations Security Council's new international sanctions passed unanimously on Saturday, which some suggest could reduce the North's exports revenue by as much as one third.
At the same time, Trump weighed in with his own response Tuesday: "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."
Nuclear-armed North Korea has test-fired at least a dozen ballistic missiles this year, including two Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles last month that experts say have a range to reach at least half of the continental United States.