Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. escalated this week after a single tweet from President Donald Trump caused an international snafu as the Asian nation said it was “clearly a declaration of war.”
“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump tweeted on Sept. 23.
North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said the tweet was a “declaration of war” which gave his country “every right” to take countermeasures.
The White House pushed back on Monday and denied that the tweet was a “declaration of war.”
“Our goal is still the same, we continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
But Trump’s tweet almost got him in trouble with his oft-used social media site as well. Twitter issued a statement on its platform Monday evening describing why it did not take down the tweet.
“We hold all accounts to the same Rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether Tweets violate our Rules. Among the considerations is ‘newsworthiness’ and whether a Tweet is of public interest,” Twitter said Monday. “This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. We need to do better on this, and will.”
Prior to his tweet, Trump took the opportunity to slam North Korea during his inaugural address to the United Nations General Assembly.
Here’s a look at what Trump has said about North Korea over time.
The U.S. is ‘locked and loaded’
Trump took to social media on August 11 to proclaim that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” in case “North Korea act[s] unwisely.”
‘Fire [and] fury’ isn’t ‘tough enough’
With the threat of nuclear violence growing, Trump warned North Korea on August 8 that he would unleash “fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
SEOUL TO RESUME HUMANITARIAN AID TO NORTH KOREA
But when tensions continued to rise and North Korea threatened to attack Guam, Trump said maybe that comment wasn’t “tough enough.”
“Let’s see what [Kim Jong Un] does with Guam. He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before – what will happen in North Korea,” Trump said on August. 10.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump is “sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un can understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”
Kim Jong Un is ‘not getting away with it’
Trump also said this week that Kim Jong Un has “disrespected our country greatly.”
“He has said things that are horrific. And with me, he’s not getting away with it,” Trump said. “He got away with it for a long time, between him and his family. He’s not getting away with it. It’s a whole new ball game.”
‘Strategic patience … is over’
After meeting with the South Korean president in Washington, D.C., in June, Trump said that the “era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed.”
“Frankly, that patience is over,” he said.
As Trump made these comments, the U.S. was rocked with the death of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American college student who suffered extensive brain damage while being held captive for more than a year.
There are ‘worse things’ than assassinating Kim Jong Un
In an interview with CBS News during the presidential campaign, Trump said he could “get China to make [Kim Jong Un] disappear in one form or another very quickly.”
When asked if he was talking about assassinating the North Korean dictator, Trump shrugged.
“Well, you know, I’ve heard of worse things, frankly. I mean, this guy’s a bad dude – and don’t underestimate him,” Trump said. “Any young guy that can take over from his father with all those generals and everybody else that probably wants the position, this is not somebody to be underestimated.”
‘What the hell is wrong with speaking?’
Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Atlanta that should Kim Jong Un want to come to the U.S., he would be “accept[ed].”
TRUMP’S NICKNAMES FOR RIVALS, FROM ‘ROCKET MAN’ TO ‘CROOKED HILLARY’
“I wouldn’t go there, that I can tell you. If he came here, I’d accept him, but I wouldn’t give him a state dinner like we do for China and all these other people that rip us off when we give them these big state dinners,” Trump said in June 2016.
“What the hell is wrong with speaking?” Trump said, referencing the criticism he received for being willing to talk with North Korea. “It’s called opening a dialogue.”
During a GOP presidential debate in September 2015, Trump railed on the “maniac” in North Korea while answering a question about Planned Parenthood and women’s health issues.
“Nobody ever mentions North Korea, where you have this maniac sitting there, and he actually has nuclear weapons and somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places. But certainly North Korea,” Trump said.
“You have somebody right now in North Korea who has got nuclear weapons and who is saying almost every other week, ‘I’m ready to use them,’ and we don’t even mention it,” he continued.
China needs to solve the problem
Even before he was president, Trump urged China to step in and help alleviate problems with North Korea.
“North Korea is reliant on China. China could solve this problem easily if they wanted to but they have no respect for our leaders,” Trump tweeted in March 2013.
WHERE IS GUAM AND WHY WOULD NORTH KOREA ATTACK IT?
In April 2013, Trump continued that line of thinking, adding that “North Korea can’t survive, or even eat, without the help of China.” He then accused China of “taunting” the U.S.
In April 2013, Trump urged then-President Barack Obama to “be very careful” with the “28-year-old wack job in North Korea.”
“At some point we may have to get very tough,” he tweeted.
‘Negotiate like crazy’
Trump warned that the U.S. needed to “do something to stop” North Korea in 1999 during an interview with the late Tim Russert on “Meet the Press.”
“Do you want to do it in five years when they have warheads all over the place, every one of them pointing to New York City, to Washington and every one of us, is that when you want to do it, or do you want to do something now?” Trump said. “You’d better do it now. And if they think you’re serious … they’ll negotiate and it’ll never come to that.”
NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM HAS GROWN WITH EACH KIM REGIME
He said then that if he ever became president, the first step he would take would be to “negotiate like crazy” to make sure that the country would “get the best deal possible.” Trump also predicted then that in “three or four years,” North Korea would have weapons aimed all over the world, including at the U.S.
No more talking
After North Korea said it successfully launched a missile over Japan, a U.S. ally, and into the Pacific Ocean, Trump initially had a surprisingly subdued response.
“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world,” Trump said in a written statement after North Korea’s missile soared almost 1,700 miles into the Pacific Ocean, triggering alert warnings in northern Japan and shudders throughout Northeast Asia. “All options are on the table.”
The missile launch was said to be a “precursor” to North Korea’s containment of the U.S. territory of Guam by leader Kim Jong Un, according to state-run media.
But in a tweet Wednesday morning, the president suggested the U.S. is finished “talking” to North Korea.
“The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer,” Trump tweeted.
‘Rocket Man’ is on a ‘suicide mission’
After dubbing him “Rocket Man” in a tweet, Trump eventually tried out the new nickname for Kim Jong Un during his inaugural address to the U.N. General Assembly.
During his speech, Trump vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if the country so provokes him. He also said Kim was “on a suicide mission.”
The North Korean ambassador to the U.N. left the room ahead of Trump’s speech in a boycott.