North Korea’s foreign minister said Monday that President Trump has declared war on the reclusive nation and that Pyongyang has the right to shoot down U.S. military aircraft.
“Since the United States declared war on our country, we have every right to take counter measures,” Ri Yong Ho told the media as he was leaving the United Nations.
“Including shooting down U.S. strategic bombers, even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country.”
Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning quickly responded that
“If North Korea does not stop their provocative actions, you know, we will make sure that we provide options to the president to deal with North Korea.”
Later on Monday, the Trump administration said it’s not seeking to overthrow North Korea’s government after the president tweeted that leader Kim Jong Un
“won’t be around much longer” and called Pyongyang’s assertion ridiculous that Donald Trump’s comment amounted to a declaration of war.
“We have not declared war on North Korea. Frankly the suggestion of that is absurd. It’s never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country’s aircraft when it’s over international waters.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
“Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” she said.
The comments are the latest in a perilous war of words and shows of force between the two nations.
U.S. bombers have flown missions close to North Korea in recent days, some of them the farthest north of the demilitarized zone for U.S. planes this century, the Pentagon said. The Pentagon said the flights show the U.S. is willing and able to defeat any threat.
In a speech before the U.N. last week, Trump called Kim a
“Rocket Man” on a
“suicide mission” and warned that the U.S. could
“totally destroy North Korea” if provoked.
In U.N.speech Saturday, Ri described Trump as a
“mentally deranged person… on a suicide mission.” That drew a Twitter reaction from Trump:
“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!”
Ri alluded to the tweet Monday, saying
“the question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered” if North Korea shoots down a U.S. plane.
Also Monday, North Korean state media released new propaganda photos and video showing an American aircraft carrier and warplanes being blown up.
The doctored footage was shown on the DPRK Today website on Sunday, hours after U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers and F-15C Eagle fighter jets carried out the show of force over international waters east of North Korea.
The 99-second video begins with Trump standing on a podium in front of service members, accompanied by ominous music. He was speaking at the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported. Trump is described in the footage as
“a mad man,” the news agency said.
Two ballistic missiles are then seen striking an American bomber and jet, which explode into balls of flames. Another missile, launched from a submarine, then hones in on the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier.
The video carries the caption:
“Should F-35, B-1B and the Carl Vinson lead the U.S. attack, they will head to the grave in that order,” according to Yonhap. It ends with footage of an American flag on fire with crosses in the background.
North Korea has threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific for the first time and launch four missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.
Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date earlier this month and was hit with tough new U.N. sanctions. North Korea responded by launching a ballistic missile over Japan. The U.S. military then flew bombers and fighter jets over the Korean Peninsula and near Japan in a show of force.