North Korea’s foreign minister on Monday accused US President Donald Trump of declaring war against his country, and said that Pyongyang reserves the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down US bombers.
Ri Yong-ho said a Twitter message by Trump on Saturday, in which the president warned that the minister and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats, amounted to a declaration of war, Reuters reports.
Speaking in New York, where he had been attending the annual UN General Assembly, Ri told reporters: “The whole world should clearly remember it was the US which first declared war on our country.”
”Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.
“The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then,” Ri added.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on Monday denied the US had declared war, calling the suggestion “absurd”.
On Saturday, US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighters flew east of North Korea in a show of force after a heated exchange of rhetoric between Trump and Kim over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea, which has remained technically at war with the USsince the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce and not a peace treaty, has been working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the US mainland.
It conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test this month.
Pyongyang accuses the US of planning to invade, and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.
Recent rhetoric from both sides has been unusually harsh, raising fears of miscalculation that could have massive repercussions, even though US officials have repeatedly stressed the administration prefers a negotiated solution.
The latest round of heavy verbal salvoes began when Trump threatened in his maiden UN address last Tuesday to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the US or its allies.
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