Members of the Trump Administration, including the President himself, have weighed in on last night's North Korean nuclear test — likely a hydrogen bomb — that caused a 5.6 magnitude earthquake. Trump himself, speaking this morning, called the act "very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”
On Twitter, the President was more forthcoming. “North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States," the President Tweeted. "North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”
But the Administration is still mixed on how to respond. Trump told reporters that "we'll see" if the aggression requires further sanctions or if another response is warranted.
Trump has convened his national security team, as well as tapped his Treasury Secetary, Steve Mnuchin, for ideas. According to sources close to the White House, Mnuchin is tasked with putting together a comprehensive economic sanctions plan that will outline harsher punishments for North Korea. But it's hard to get much harsher than what North Korea already faces: an almost complete blockade of trade with most Western nations.
Mnuchin also told the Sunday morning talk shows that he plans to lean on China, which is still North Korea's most prominent trading partner. “We are going to work with our allies, we’ll work with China, but people need to cut off North Korea economically. This is unacceptable behavior," Mnuchin told Fox News Sunday.
Part of the plan does seem to involve exerting pressure on southeast Asian allies, including South Korea, which Trump called out by name in his remarks, chastising them for a policy of detente with their Communist neighbor to the north. “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”
Unlike previous talk of North Korea, though, this morning's administration statements seem to be echoing deeper concern about the situation from some unusual places: Democratic Members of Congress and Republicans who aren't known to agree with President Trump on foreign policy.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), clearly no GOP ally of the White House, was clear Sunday morning that North Korea has now become a priority. “North Korea right now is the most dangerous place on the face of the planet,” Cruz told ABC This Week. “He is radical, he is unpredictable, he is extreme, and he is getting more and more dangerous weapons.”
Cruz went on to defend the President: “I think the President is right that Kim Jong Un and other bullies only understand and respect strength; that weakness, that appeasement encourages this action."
Even Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) seemed to be of the same mind, though he was troubled by the President's Twitter-focused response. “I don’t think that it’s helpful to get into a Twitter shouting match with a 32-year-old dictator, Kim Jong Un, in North Korea,” Castro also told ABC This Week. He cautioned Trump to “let his diplomats and his military generals and others handle this situation.”
The Trump Administration says it will be meeting with prominent advisors later on Sunday.