North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says US President Donald Trump will “pay dearly” for threatening to destroy his country, as the two sides keep trading barbs in a heated standoff that has overshadowed this year’s United Nations General Assembly.
Kim’s remarks came after Trump said in his Tuesday’s debut UN speech that the US had the means to “totally destroy” the North if all other ways to “denuclearize” Pyongyang failed.
Calling the American president “deranged,” Kim said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency early on Friday that he was “thinking hard” about his response to Trump’s threat.
Describing Trump as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire,” Kim said that the businessman-turned-president was “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.”
The standoff between North Korea and the US over the former’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs reached its peak after Pyongyang detonated its sixth nuclear bomb and test-fired a number of missiles over the past weeks.
Trump’s threats at the UN did not go down well with traditional US allies like the UK, France and Germany, which have all called for diplomatic solutions while supporting more economic sanctions.
Russia dismisses ‘military hysteria’ on N Korea
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also responded to Trump’s threats of war against North Korea, dismissing them in an indirect jab as “military hysteria.”
“We resolutely condemn the nuclear and missile adventures of Pyongyang, but military hysteria is not just an impasse… it is disaster,” Lavrov said at the General Assembly.
The Russian foreign minister stressed that there was “no alternative to political and diplomatic ways of settling the nuclear situation” on the Korean Peninsula, and called on the international community to support a joint Russian-Chinese proposal for talks to defuse the crisis.
The proposal deems negotiations between the two sides possible if Pyongyang agrees to halt its missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a suspension of South Korean-US annual military drills.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has turned down the proposal as “insulting.”
China sees talks as ‘only way’
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also brought up the issue during his speech at the UN, asserting that dialogue was still the best option to resolve the crisis.
“There is still hope for peace and we must not give up,” he said. “Negotiation is the only way out and deserves every effort.”
Beijing, Pyongyang’s main trade partner, has come under overwhelming pressure from the Trump administration to end the North’s military programs.
Washington has even put sanctions on some Chinese companies and threatened more sweeping actions.
‘China bans banks from doing business with N Korea’
Meanwhile, reports on Thursday said China’s central bank had instructed the country’s banks to strictly implement the UN’s recent sanctions against North Korea.
According to Reuters, Chinese banks have been told to stop providing financial services to new North Korean customers and wind down loans with existing customers.
EU agrees on new bans
The European Union also reportedly agreed on new sanctions against North Korea on Thursday.
“Today the PSC [EU member states’ ambassadors] agreed on a package of new autonomous measures,” an EU official told Reuters.
The development came after Trump signed a new directive to impose additional bans on Pyongyang.