North Korea’s foreign minister says President Donald Trump had declared war on his country and that Pyongyang reserves the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down US bombers even if they are not in its airspace.
The increasingly heated rhetoric between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is raising fears of a risk of a miscalculation by one side or the other that could have massive repercussions.
“The whole world should clearly remember it was the US who first declared war on our country,” Ri Yong-ho said in New York City on Monday.
“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”
In a direct reference to a Twitter post by Trump on Saturday, Ri said: “The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then.”
US stocks fell sharply in late morning trading on Monday after Ri’s comments. The five tech companies – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet – were down between 3.7 percent and 1.05 percent.
Ri told the US General Assembly on Saturday that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Trump called Kim a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.
“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump said on Twitter on Saturday.
As per the reports from New York, the latest comments by Ri represents a “real ramping up” of language against the US.
“He said if US bombers were to fly near North Korea even in international waters, North Korea will shoot them down. The minister’s comments on Saturday at the UN General Assembly were a blistering attack but he’s gone even further now.”
North Korea, which has pursued its missile and nuclear programmes in defiance of international condemnation and economic sanctions, said it “bitterly condemned the reckless remarks” of Trump.
They were an “intolerable insult to the Korean people” and a declaration of war, the North’s official news agency said on Monday.
Pyongyang accuses Washington, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.
The US and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950s conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.