The White House has questioned the mental health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after his repeated threats to the US that he has "nuclear button on his desk."
"I think the President and the people of this country should be concerned about the mental fitness of the leader of North Korea. He's made repeated threats. He's tested missiles time and time again for years," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference.
Sanders was responding to questions on Trump's nuclear button tweet, after which some political analysts in the US have been questioning his mental fitness.
"This is a President who's not going to cower down and he's not going to be weak, and is going to make sure that he does what he's promised to do, and that's stand up and protect the American people," Sanders said.
A day earlier, Trump, responding to the latest rhetoric of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said that he too has a nuclear button which is not only much bigger and powerful, but also works.
"North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un had said that the "Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times."
"Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!" Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Trump was apparently responding to a statement of Kim Jong Un that North Korea is a now a nuclear country and that he has a nuclear button at his desk.
"The US should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table. The entire area of the US mainland is within our nuclear strike range. The US can never start a war against me and our country," he said in a televised address to the nation.
"We need to mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and accelerate their deployment," the North Korean leader had said.
Trump is concerned about the continued threats that this individual has made towards the US and others, Sanders said. Trump is not going to allow him to continue doing that without saying something and standing up for the people of the country, the White House spokesperson said.
Sanders told reporters that it's extremely clear what Trump's position is.
"Our position on North Korea hasn't changed since the beginning. This is a President who is committed to protecting Americans and protecting the people of this country, and he's not going to back down from that," she said.
The White House defended Trump's tweet. "Has there been any consideration that tweets like the one on North Korea actually don't advance the agenda, meaning working with other partners in the region?" she was asked. "I think what didn't help was the complacency and the silence of the previous administration. This is a President who leads through strength, and he's going to do that and he's going to focus on everything that he can do in order to keep Americans safe, and he's not going to be pushed around by the leader of North Korea," Sanders said.
America's policy with North Korea has not changed, she asserted.
"We're fully committed to continuing to apply maximum pressure and working with all of our partners in the region including South Korea, who we have a better relationship now than ever before. We're going to keep working with them and keep pushing forward, and hopefully North Korea will start making better decisions," Sanders said.
The White House Press Secretary refuted allegations that by his tweet, Trump was taunting the North Korean leader.
"I don't think that it's taunting to stand up for the people of this country. I think what's dangerous is to ignore the continued threats, "she said.
"If the previous administration had done anything and dealt with North Korea, dealt with Iran, instead of sitting by and doing nothing, we wouldn't have to clean up their mess now," she added.