North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Monday accused US President Donald Trump of declaring war on his country by tweeting over the weekend that North Korea “won’t be around much longer.”
“Last weekend Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn’t be around much longer and declared a war on our country,” Ri said, according to an official translation of his remarks to reporters in New York.
“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make all self-defensive counter measures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet inside the aerospace border of our country,” Ri said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday that the US has not declared war on North Korea, adding, “Frankly, the suggestion of that is absurd.”
Sanders said it is “never appropriate” to shoot down another nation’s aircraft in international waters and the administration plans to continue to protect the area.
The ongoing war of words between the two nations also saw several new fiery salvos on Saturday, a day on which the US military, in a show of force, flew bombers in international airspace over waters east of North Korea and the detection of mysterious seismic activity refueled concerns over the rogue nation’s nuclear ambitions.
Speaking at the UN on Saturday, Ri said that Trump had made a missile attack on the US mainland inevitable by insulting the dignity of North Korea.
“None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission,” Ri said in a speech at the UN General Assembly. “In case innocent lives of the US are harmed because of this suicide attack, Trump will be held totally responsible.”
Trump took on Twitter Saturday night to respond to Ri’s remarks.
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Earlier on Monday, State Department spokesperson Katina Adams told CNN the US seeks a “peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
But the US military “will take all options to make sure that we safeguard our allies and our partners and our homeland so if North Korea does not stop their provocative actions we’ll make sure we provide options to the President to deal with North Korea,” according to Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman.
Asked about Ri’s charge that Trump’s comments were a declaration of war, Manning, said: “Our job as the Department of Defense is as you know is to make sure that the President is provided military options, we’ll continue to do that, and we have a deep arsenal of military options to provide the President so then he can decide how he wants to deal with North Korea and the regime.”
“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.
“North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”