North Koreas foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, responds to Donald Trump calling Kim Jong-un rocket man
North Koreas foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, has issued a withering riposte to Donald Trump, likening his threat to destroy the regime to the sound of a dog barking, adding that he felt sorry for the US presidents advisers.
In his first speech to the UN general assembly, Trump said on Tuesday the US would be forced to totally destroy North Korea if Washington was forced to defend itself or its allies against the countrys missiles.
Referring to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, by a nickname he gave him in a tweet last weekend, Trump said to the visible dismay of some in the hall: Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime.
Speaking to reporters outside his hotel after arriving in New York on Wednesday, Ri cited a Korean proverb when asked to respond to Trumps vow to destroy his country.
There is a saying that the marching goes on even when dogs bark, Ri said, according to South Koreas Yonhap news agency.
If he was thinking he could scare us with the sound of a dog barking, thats really a dog dream, he added. In Korean, a dog dream is one that makes little sense.
Asked what he thought of Trumps description of Kim as rocket man, Ri replied: I feel sorry for his aides.
Trumps confrontational speech came after months of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, culminating in Pyongyangs sixth, and biggest, nuclear test and the launch of two ballistic missiles over northern Japan.
As the US and North Korea traded verbal barbs, Washingtons allies in the region risked angering China by dismissing the prospect of dialogue with the regime.
Japans prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told the UN general assembly that previous talks had come to nothing and called for a global blockade that would deny North Korea access to goods, funds, people and technology for its missile and nuclear programmes.
Repeating his support for Washingtons position that all options, including military action, remained on the table, Abe said pressure in the form of sanctions was preferable to negotiation.
We must make North Korea abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. What is needed to do is not dialogue, but pressure, said Abe, who devoted his entire speech to North Korea.
Warning that time was running out for a solution to the North Korean crisis, Abe said the failure of a 1994 agreement between the North and the US to freeze Pyongyangs nuclear programme, and the stalling of six-party talks almost a decade ago, were proof the regime would not respond to dialogue.
North Korea had no intention whatsoever of abandoning its nuclear or missile development, he said. For North Korea, dialogue was instead the best means of deceiving us and buying time. In what hope of success are we now repeating the very same failure a third time?
While China has voiced anger at North Koreas volley of missile tests in recent months, it fears the consequences of regime collapse in Pyongyang and has repeatedly called for a negotiated solution, with its foreign minister, Wang Yi, urging an end to the current deepening vicious cycle.
But even South Koreas liberal president, Moon Jae-in, appears to have abandoned, for now, the idea of engaging his countrys neighbour after its nuclear test earlier this month.
Moons office said he welcomed Trumps firm speech to the UN. It clearly showed how seriously the United States government views North Koreas nuclear programme as the president spent an unusual amount of time discussing the issue, the presidential Blue House said in a statement.
Trumps speech reaffirmed that North Korea should be made to realise denuclearisation is the only way to the future through utmost sanctions and pressure, it added.