“Saber rattling” is the analogy frequently used to describe two countries exchanging verbal threats of military action.

But the United States and North Korea have weapons far more dangerous than sabers. The tension between these two nuclear powers is the most serious foreign crisis to confront President Donald Trump.

Critics have chastised Trump for responding to a report about North Korea installing miniature nuclear warheads in intercontinental missiles by threatening to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on the Communist country.

Although Trump’s rhetoric is too bellicose for our tastes, we recognize that a more moderate approach, which largely defines America’s reaction to North Korea’s repeated provocations over the past decade, has failed to persuade Pyongyang to reconsider its program to assemble a nuclear arsenal that can potentially hit targets in this country.

That said, we doubt the president needs to remind North Korea, in such a graphic way, of America’s immense military capability. This is hardly a secret.

It’s depressing to consider, more than a quarter century after the fears of the Cold War had largely subsided, that nuclear weapons are again dominating international headlines.

We believe that diplomacy and more severe economic sanctions on North Korea, along with a more cooperative China, can help to defuse this conflict. And although we don’t object to Mr. Trump speaking in clear and stern terms about North Korean aggression, we hope the president will strive to avoid unnecessarily grandiose phrases more appropriate to a summer blockbuster movie than to international diplomacy.

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