Most Americans Say Trump Is Willing to Strike North Korea

(CN) – Americans are becoming increasingly concerned with North Korea’s nuclear capabilities and most think President Donald Trump is very willing to take military action, according to a new study released as Trump left the U.S. for an 11-day trip to Asia to meet with leaders and diplomats on that very topic.

This image made from video of an Aug. 14, 2017, still image broadcast shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un receiving a briefing in Pyongyang. (KRT via AP Video)

Based on a survey of more than 1,500 Americans from Oct. 25 to Oct. 30, the Pew Research Center found in a report released Friday that 71 percent of them think the United States should take North Korea’s nuclear threats “very seriously” – a 15 percent increase from a similar survey in 2013.

An “overwhelming” 84 percent majority of those surveyed said that President Trump is “really willing to use military force against North Korea,” according to the study.

Despite a growing schism along partisan lines in recent years, the Republicans and Democrats surveyed by Pew are also in agreement over North Korean leadership’s willingness to use nuclear weapons.

Republicans’ opinion on North Korea’s willingness to use nuclear weapons against the United States increased 10 percent, from 56 percent in 2013 to 66 percent now.

Democrats showed a more dramatic increase from 38 percent in 2013 to 65 percent this year.

According to Pew researchers, an increasing number of Americans from both parties also believe that North Korea is capable of reaching the United States with a nuclear weapon.

Republican belief in that prospect increased from 47 percent to 63 percent, and Democratic belief increased from 46 percent to 64 percent.

However, Americans diverged on President Trump’s ability to respond to North Korea effectively.

Overall, 39 percent of those surveyed said they were “very or somewhat confident in Trump’s handling of this situation,” while 13 percent said they were “not too confident” and 46 percent were “not at all confident.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, 80 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning individuals said they were “at least somewhat confident” in Trump regarding North Korea – a stark contrast to the 9 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning individuals who thought the same.

The Pew survey was published just as President Trump departed the United States on Friday for an 11-day diplomatic tour of Asia primarily to discuss North Korea and its nuclear capabilities.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster explained President Trump’s policy goals for the trip during an itinerary briefing with reporters Thursday, according to an NBC News report.

McMaster said the president will aim to strengthen international resolve to denuclearize North Korea and advance American prosperity through fair trade and economic practices.

When questioned about President Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric toward North Korea, McMaster responded coyly: “I don’t think the president really modulates his language – have you noticed him do that?”

Prior to President Trump’s scheduled trip to five Asian countries, Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and other South Korea leaders on Oct. 26 to discuss the North Korean threat, according to a statement from the Defense Department.

“In each meeting, the leaders reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance, and noted the importance of a strong military to support the diplomatic efforts of the international community to achieve their shared goal of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” according to the statement.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will also be involved in the diplomatic process in Asia by accompanying President Trump on the trip and making an additional stop in Burma, the State Department said Thursday.

However, Secretary Tillerson’s role in diplomacy with Asian countries comes on the heels of President Trump’s ambiguous yet foreboding comments regarding the secretary’s status within the administration.

In an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingram on Thursday night, Trump said he did not know if Tillerson would remain in the administration for the full term.

“Well, we’ll see,” Trump told Ingram.

However, the State, Defense and National Security Departments all said publicly that the administration’s top priority is the denuclearization of North Korea.

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