North Korea’s foreign minister has said the Communist nation may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean after dictator Kim Jong Un vowed he would take the “highest-level” action against the United States, South Korean media reported Thursday.
The Yonhap news agency reported on comments made to reporters by Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un,” Ri was quoted as saying by Yonhap.
Such a test would be considered a major provocation by the U.S., South Korea and Japan. Ri was scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, a day later than previously scheduled.
Ri’s comments followed Kim’s extraordinary statement lashing out at President Trump, calling the American leader “deranged” and vowing that Trump would “pay dearly” for his threat to destroy North Korea.
Kim’s first-person statement was published by North Korea’s state propaganda arm in response to Trump’s fiery speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. South Korean media called it the first such direct address to the world by Kim.
Kim said Trump was “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.” He also described the U.S. president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.”
Some analysts saw Kim’s statement as a clear announcement that North Korea would ramp up its already brisk pace of weapons testing, which has included missiles meant to target U.S. forces throughout Asia and the U.S. mainland.
On Tuesday, Trump mocked Kim as a “rocket man” on a “suicide mission,” and said that if “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
Kim characterized Trump’s speech to the world body as “mentally deranged behavior.”
He said Trump’s remarks “have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.”
Kim said he was “thinking hard” about his response and that Trump “will face results beyond his expectation.”
Kim Dong-yub, a former South Korean military official who is now an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said Kim’s statement indicated that North Korea would respond to Trump with its most aggressive missile test yet. That might include firing a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan to a range of around 4,349 miles to display a capability to reach Hawaii or Alaska.
In recent months, the North has launched a pair of still-developmental ICBMs it said were capable of striking the continental United States and a pair of intermediate-range missiles that soared over Japanese territory. Earlier this month, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, drawing stiffer U.N. sanctions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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