Bedminster (New Jersey)
United States President Donald Trump has warned North Korea it would be met with “fire and fury” if it threatens the US.
Earlier Pyongyang said it was ready to give Washington a “severe lesson” with its strategic nuclear force in response to any US military action.
Washington has warned it is ready to use force if need be to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes but that it prefers global diplomatic action, including sanctions.
The consequences of any US strike would potentially be catastrophic for South Koreans, Japanese and US military personnel within range of North Korean retaliatory strikes.
US military and intelligence officials said any military action against North Korea could unleash a barrage of missiles and artillery in retaliation targeted on Seoul and US bases in South Korea and elsewhere that would probably claim hundreds of thousands of lives.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump told reporters at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday over its continued missile tests, that could slash the reclusive country’s
$3 billion annual export revenue by a third.
North Korea said the sanctions infringed its sovereignty and it was ready to give Washington a “severe lesson” with its strategic nuclear force in response to any US military action.
North Korea has made no secret of plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile able to strike the US and has ignored international calls to halt its nuclear and missile programmes.
North Korea says its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are a legitimate means of defence against perceived US hostility. It has long accused the US and South Korea of worsening tensions by conducting military drills.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has warned of an “effective and overwhelming” response against North Korea if it chose to use nuclear weapons but has said any military solution would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”
The US has 28,500 troops in South Korea to guard against the North Korean threat. Japan hosts about 54,000 US military personnel, the US Department of Defence says, and tens of thousands of Americans work in both countries.
Seoul is home to a population of roughly 10 million, within range of massed pre-targeted North Korean rockets and artillery, which would be impossible to destroy by a first US strike.
“There is no question who would prevail in the event of war, regardless of who started it, but there also is no question about the cost,” a former US government expert on north-east Asia said.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held the door open for dialogue, saying Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang if it halted its missile test launches.
Still, he maintained the pressure, urging Thailand yesterday for more action against Pyongyang.
The successful testing of two ICBMs last month suggested the reclusive North was making technical progress, Japan’s annual defence white paper warned.
“Since last year, when it forcibly implemented two nuclear tests and more than 20 ballistic missile launches, the security threats have entered a new stage,” its defence ministry said in the 563-page document released overnight.
“It is conceivable that North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme has already considerably advanced and it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturisation of nuclear weapons and has acquired nuclear warheads,” it added.
South Korea reiterated further UN resolutions against Pyongyang could follow if it did not pull back.
“North Korea should realise if it doesn’t stop its . . . provocations, it will face even stronger pressure and sanctions,” Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a regular news briefing. “We warn North Korea not to test or misunderstand the will of the South Korea-US alliance.”
Speaking at a regional security forum in Manila on Monday that Tillerson also attended, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the new UN resolution showed China and the international community’s opposition to North Korea’s continued missile tests.
“Owing to China’s traditional economic ties with North Korea, it will mainly be China paying the price for implementing the resolution,” China’s foreign ministry in a statement overnight cited Wang as saying.
“But in order to protect the international non-proliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will, as before, fully and strictly properly implement the entire contents of the relevant resolution.”
China, North Korea’s lone major ally, has repeatedly said it is committed to enforcing increasingly tough UN resolutions on North Korea, although it has also said what it terms “normal” trade and ordinary North Koreans should not be affected.
The latest UN resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the number of North Korean labourers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures. Reuters
Bedminster (New Jersey)