Defense

Trump: Obama told me that he 'was so close to starting a big war with North Korea'

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump said Friday that the Obama administration "was so close to starting a big war with North Korea."
  • Trump continued by saying the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea has improved.
  • North Korea is the only nation to test nuclear weapons in this century.
President Donald Trump (R) gestures as he meets with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump claimed Friday that the Obama administration "was so close to starting a big war with North Korea" when asked for details of the second summit between the U.S. and North Korea.

"When I came into office, I met right there in the Oval Office with President Obama. And I sat in those beautiful chairs, and we talked, it was supposed to be 15 minutes, as you know, it ended up being many times longer than that. And I said what's the biggest problem? He said by far, North Korea," Trump explained from the Rose Garden.

"I don't want to speak for him, but I believe he would've gone to war with North Korea. I think he was ready to go to war. In fact he told me he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea," Trump said.

The president then said that "a lot's been accomplished" since meeting in June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Trump continued by saying that the relationship with Pyongyang has since improved.

"Where are we now? No missiles, no rockets, no nuclear testing. We've learned a lot. But much more importantly than all of it, much more important, much much more important than that, is, we have a great relationship," Trump added.

On the heels of Trump's remarks, Ben Rhodes, a top Obama national security aide, wrote on Twitter that the U.S. was not "on the brink of war with North Korea."

Since 2011, the North Korean leader has fired more than 90 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapons tests, which is more than what his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years. In 2017 alone, Kim launched 24 missiles and carried out North Korea's largest nuclear test.

North Korea is the only nation to test nuclear weapons this century.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA).
KCNA | Reuters

The North's arsenal includes short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile is the most powerful rocket the North has tested to date.

The missile, also known as KN-22 by the U.S., is believed to have a range capable of hitting the entire continental United States, according to estimates from the Missile Defense Project.