North Korea warned that a nuclear attack on the US was “inevitable”, prompting President Trump to say that he was contemplating regime change or targeted assassination of the leadership in Pyongyang.
Ri Yong-ho, North Korea’s foreign minister, was speaking at the UN general assembly in New York when he denounced the speech given by Mr Trump last Thursday in which he threatened to destroy North Korea.
“Just heard foreign minister of North Korea speak at UN,” the US president wrote on Twitter. Using his personal nickname for Kim Jong-un he added: “If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”
Past presidents have been careful to deny claims that the US seeks to overthrow the Kim regime. The intensification of rhetoric came as the US announced the flight of nuclear-capable bombers in international airspace close to North Korea, and represents the latest violation of boundaries which Washington and Pyongyang have generally respected for decades.
Mr Ri referred to the US president as “commander in grief”, “lyin’ king” and “president evil”. In off-the-cuff remarks at the general assembly last week, General Ri said that the North might carry out an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific.
Speaking of Mr Trump in his formal speech, he said: “Due to his lack of basic common knowledge and proper sentiment, he tried to insult the supreme dignity of my country by referring it to a rocket. He committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more.”
Referring to a ninth round of sanctions imposed by the UN security council, he said: “It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces.”
“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options,” Dana White, the defence department spokeswoman, said. “We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”
According to state media, 100,000 people attended an anti-American rally in the centre of Pyongyang at the weekend where speakers expressed their support for an unprecedented personal statement on Friday by Mr Kim, in which he called Mr Trump a “rogue and a gangster”, a “barking dog”, and a “mentally deranged US dotard”.
“We are waiting for the right time to have a final battle with the US, the evil empire, and to remove the US from the world,” Ri Il-bae, an officer of the Red Guards, told the Korean Central News Agency. “Once supreme commander Kim Jong-un gives an order, we will annihilate the group of aggressors.”
• The United States will prohibit entry of citizens from North Korea as part of a new travel ban that also imposes restrictions on Iran, Chad, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia. The rules, which take effect from October 18, arose from a review after Mr Trump’s original travel bans were challenged in court. A White House official admitted that the number of North Koreans travelling to the US was very low.