Real-estate mogul Donald Trump said on Saturday that North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, deserves "credit" for taking over his country at such a young age.
"If you look at North Korea, this guy, I mean, he's like a maniac, OK? And you've got to give him credit. How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals," Trump said in Ottumwa, Iowa.
The Republican presidential front-runner said Kim's willingness to push aside generals and "wipe out" his uncle demonstrated why the US needs to treat North Korea's nuclear arsenal as a serious threat.
"And all of a sudden — and you know it's pretty amazing when you think of it — how does he do that? Even though it is a culture and it's a cultural thing, he goes in, he takes over, and he's the boss," Trump recalled. "It's incredible. He wiped out the uncle. He wiped out this one, that one. I mean, this guy doesn't play games. And we can't play games with him. Because he really does have missiles. And he really does have nukes."
North Korea drew worldwide condemnation earlier this week when it detonated what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb. If true, North Korea's nuclear weapons would have to the potential to be far more devastating. However, experts widely believe that the erratic North Korean regime had actually tested a more conventional nuclear weapon.
During his Iowa speech on Saturday, Trump also said his plan to de-escalate the region is for the US to put pressure on China, which has been North Korea's longtime benefactor. The billionaire businessman accused the Chinese government of ripping the US off for years.
"Here's what we do. We tell China," Trump said. "We rebuilt China. They have taken so much of our money with trade. They have taken everything. They have taken our jobs, our money. ... They've taken so much. And literally, it's one of the great thefts in the history of the world, what they've done to our country."