North Korea’s foreign minister has accused President Donald Trump of having “lit the wick of a war” between his country and the US, saying that America would be made to pay with a “hail of fire”.
Tensions between the US and North Korea have intensified in recent months as the Trump administration has struggled to rein in Kim Jong-un’s expanding nuclear and ballistic weapons programme alongside international allies. The words of Ri Yong Ho are the latest episode of increasingly hostile barbs being traded between Mr Trump and the regime in Pyongyang.
Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Mr Ri as saying: “With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us.”
“We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words,” he reportedly added.
During an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr Trump declared that the US would “totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend itself or its allies. The President added that while the US has “great strength and patience,” its options for dealing with the isolated nation could soon run out.
Undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 21, 2017 AFP/Getty
Mr Trump also mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, referring to him as “Rocket Man”.
The speech came about a week after the UN Security Council had voted to ratchet up sanctions on North Korea following its sixth and largest nuclear test, with numerous other rocket tests having been conducted this year.
A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry said last month that the more sanctions the US and its allies impose, the faster the nation will work to develop its nuclear weapons programme, according to North Korea’s official KCNA news agency.
Mr Ri has previously called Mr Trump “President Evil” and his latest comments are unlikely to be received well by the White House.
“We have almost reached the last point on the journey towards our final goal – to achieve a real balance of power with the United States,” Mr Ri said.
“Our principal position is that we will never agree to any talks in which our nuclear weapons will be the subject of negotiations,” he added.
Many members of Congress have criticised Mr Trump’s “belligerent” rhetoric toward North Korea. On Sunday, Republican Senator Bob Corker even suggested that Mr Trump’s comments about other nations could put the US “on the path to World War III.”
Asked on Tuesday if the Senator was correct in his assessment, Mr Trump responded: “We were on the wrong path before.”
“All you have to do is take a look,” Mr Trump added. “If you look over the last 25 years, through numerous administrations, we were on a path to a very big problem – a problem like this world has never seen. We’re on the right path right now, believe me.”
While Mr Trump has taken an aggressive tone in his comments about North Korea, other officials have been more measured.
Defence Secretary James Mattis has said the administration is still aiming for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, but has told the US Army “to be ready” should military action be ordered by the President.