State Department: US speaking with 'one voice' on North Korea

A State Department spokeswoman on Wednesday said the Trump administration is speaking with “one voice” on North Korea, pushing back against criticism that officials and President Trump have struck different tones.

“Well I think the United States, and some of you may disagree with this, but the United States is on the same page,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters at a briefing.

“Whether it’s the White House, the State Department, the Department of Defense, we are speaking with one voice.”

Nauert’s comments come one day after Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric toward Pyongyang following a ballistic missile test and reports that the country can now fit a miniaturized warhead on a missile.

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“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said Tuesday from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is on vacation.

“He has been very threatening beyond a normal state,” Trump continued of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, “and as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTrump relationship with Tillerson has been tense for months: report Bill O'Reilly: With Trump, Tillerson coverage, the media takes us all for 'morons' Overnight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad MORE appeared to strike a different tone on Wednesday, arguing there is not “any imminent threat” coming from North Korea.

"Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days," Tillerson said.

The nation’s top diplomat addressed Trump’s remarks, saying that the president is trying to use language North Korea’s leader will understand.

“What the president is doing 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,” said Tillerson. 

“I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the U.S.'s unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies.” 

Nauert reiterated Tillerson’s argument during the briefing.

“The secretary has talked in the past about how the president is a very effective spokesman. People listen to him and those were the president’s words sending a message loud and clear to North Korea.”

She added that the United States and its regional partners “are all singing from the same hymn book” when it comes to North Korea.

Asked if the U.S. was using tough language to get through to Pyongyang, Nauert responded, “There are lots of ways we believe to get through to Kim Jong Un and his regime, OK?”

“And our issue is not with the people of the DPRK. It is with the regime itself.”

Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts Trump, honor Obama’s agreement to release Guantanamo detainee MORE also issued his own tough statement Wednesday, urging Pyongyang “to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

“The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people,” added Mattis.

The White House has pushed back against reports that Trump’s tone caught his national security team off guard.

“[Chief of staff John] Kelly and others on the NSC team were well aware of the tone of the statement of the president prior to delivery," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday. "The words were his own. The tone and strength of the message were discussed beforehand."

Following Trump’s comments Wednesday, North Korea threatened to attack the U.S. territory of Guam.