In another marked escalation of strong rhetoric, Pyongyang has accused US President Donald Trump of being “bereft of reason.” Tensions have soared since Trump issued a bellicose threat against the communist nation.
North Korea’s military on Thursday described overt threats from US President Donald Trump as a “load of nonsense,” marking another uptick in strong rhetoric increasing tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
“Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” the military said in comments carried by state-run news agency KCNA.
The report added that actions the North Korean military “is about to take” will be effective in restraining Washington’s “frantic moves.”
Tensions have soared in the past week with Trump striking a combative tone, saying Tuesday that North Korea “best not make any more threats” against the US. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” he added.
‘Never tolerate’ provocations
South Korea’s military responded to Pyongyang’s latest threats, saying it will face a “stern and strong” response from Washington and Seoul if goes ahead with plans to fire rockets near Guam. Tokyo added that Japan “can never tolerate” such provocations from North Korea.
Washington and Seoul are prepared to “immediately and sternly punish” provocations from North Korea, said Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
US State Secretary Rex Tillerson on Wednesday tried to defuse the situation, telling reporters aboard his plane that there wasn’t “any immediate threat” to the island of Guam after Pyongyang said it was considering plans to target areas surrounding the US territory.
“Americans should sleep well at night,” he said in an attempt to calm fears of a possible military conflict between the US and North Korea. “Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.”
War of words
However, soon after Tillerson’s remarks, Trump appeared to up the stakes again by praising US nuclear armaments, saying they had become “stronger and more powerful than ever before” since the start of his presidency.
The escalation in rhetoric follows the release of a Japanese defense paper and reports by multiple US media outlets that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urged North Korea to stop considering any actions that would “lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”
Pyongyang “would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates,” he said in a statement.
Beijing: Situation ‘sensitive’
Several world powers, including Germany, have urged both sides to show restraint. China has described the situation as “highly complicated and sensitive.”
“We hope all relevant parties speak cautiously and move prudently, stop provoking each other, avoid further escalating the situation and strive to return to the correct track of dialogue and negotiations as soon as possible,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
Meanwhile, North Korea on Wednesday said it had released Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian citizen, on humanitarian grounds.
The 61-year-old Lim, who had worked as a Presbyterian pastor in Canada, was arrested in North Korea in early 2015 and handed a life sentence of hard labor. Pyongyang claims the pastor was attempting to overthrow the regime, which Canadian authorities vehemently deny.
ls/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)