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Trump boasts of U.S. nuclear power in warning to North Korea

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A day after warning North Korea that any threat to the United States will be met by “fire and fury,” President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that the U.S. “nuclear arsenal” is “far stronger and more powerful” under his watch — but hopes “we will never have to use” it.

“My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal,” Trump tweeted. “It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….”

Seven minutes later, Trump finished his thought.

“Hopefully we will never have to use this power,” the president wrote, “but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”

Trump’s statement was far less ominous than the one he issued on Tuesday afternoon, when the president threatened to meet Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations with “fire and fury.”

“North Korea [had] best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Related: Trump warns North Korea it will face ‘fire and fury’

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

Those words were criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., deplored Trump’s tough talk.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., did too.

“I take exception to the president’s comments because you gotta be able to do what you say you’re gonna do,” McCain told reporters. “In other words, the old walk softly but carry a big stick, Teddy Roosevelt’s saying, which I think is something that should’ve applied because all it’s going to do is bring us closer to a serious confrontation. I think this is very, very, very serious.”

“The great leaders I’ve seen don’t threaten unless they’re ready to act, and I’m not sure President Trump is ready to act,” McCain added. “It’s the classic Trump in that he overstates things.”

North Korea responded by threatening a missile strike on the American island of Guam.

Also read: Guam residents fear attack after North Korea statements

On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis released a longer statement calling on North Korea to deescalate tensions.

The [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Mattis said. “The DPKR should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

Earlier Wednesday, , Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looked to tamp down the rhetoric.

“I do not believe that there is any imminent threat,” Tillerson told reporters aboard a flight to Guam. “Americans should sleep well at night.”

On “Fox & Friends,” Trump deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka said the president’s message to North Korea is simple: “Don’t test” America.

“We are not just a superpower,” Gorka said. “We were a superpower. We are now a hyperpower.”

While Trump may have vowed to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, President Barack Obama’s 2010 arms-reduction pact with Russia included billions for upgrading America’s nuclear infrastructure. And Obama laid the groundwork for spending $1 trillion over three decades to modernize the country’s so-called “nuclear triad” — bombers, land-based missiles and submarines.

— With Yahoo News chief Washington correspondent Olivier Knox contributing reporting

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