18 February 2019
North Koreans march during an anti-US rally in Pyongyang on Sept. 23. Photo: KCNA/Reuters
North Koreans march during an anti-US rally in Pyongyang on Sept. 23. Photo: KCNA/Reuters

Trump steps up N Korea warning; Pyongyang holds anti-US rally

US President Donald Trump stepped up rhetoric against North Korea at the weekend, warning the Kim Jong-un regime that it “won’t be around much longer” if it continues to threaten the United States.

“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!” Trump said on Twitter late on Saturday.

The tweet came after North Korean minister Ri Yong-ho told the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday that targeting the US mainland with rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Trump called Pyongyang’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission, Reuters reports.

Trump and Kim have traded increasingly threatening and personal insults as Pyongyang races toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US.

Analysts say the heated rhetoric is increasing the risk of a miscalculation by one side or the other that could have massive repercussions.

North Korea’s state-run television KRT, meanwhile, aired a video over the weekend showing tens of thousands of people attending an anti-US rally at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang.

The North’s official KCNA news agency said more than 100,000 people gathered for the rally on Saturday and delivered speeches supporting comments made by Kim earlier in the week.

“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,” KCNA quoted Ri Il-bae, a commanding officer of the Red Guards, as saying.

“Once respected Supreme commander Kim Jong Un gives an order, we will annihilate the group of aggressors.”

In an unprecedented direct statement on Friday, Kim described Trump as a “mentally deranged US dotard” whom he would tame with fire.

Kim said the North would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the US and that Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear program was “the correct path”.

Trump threatened in his maiden UN address on Tuesday to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people if North Korea threatened the US or its allies.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on Sept. 3, prompting another round of UN sanctions. Pyongyang said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

On Saturday, US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighters flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea in a show of force.

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