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North Korea accuses Trump of 'declaring war'

27 September 2017

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho has accused US President Donald Trump of declaring war on his country and warned that the government in Pyongyang reserves the right to shoot down US bombers flying in the vicinity of North Korea.North Korean state media released images on 29 May showing a test of what appears to be the Pongae-5 surface-to-air missile system. (Rodong Sinmun)North Korean state media released images on 29 May showing a test of what appears to be the Pongae-5 surface-to-air missile system. (Rodong Sinmun)

“Trump claimed our leadership would not be around much longer and hence at last he declared war on us,” Ri told reporters on 25 September in New York.

“Since the United States declared war on our country, we have every right to take countermeasures, including shooting down US strategic bombers, even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country. The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then,” he added.

Washington denied having declared war on North Korea, with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that the suggestion was “absurd”.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) reacted by saying that the United States "seeks only the peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions or provocations by North Korea”. However, it pointed out that the actions of the North Korean regime “will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours", and that Pyongyang "would lose any arms race or conflict that it initiates”.

The DoD also warned that the United States is “prepared to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the threat from North Korea”.

Ri’s comments were a response to Trump’s 24 September tweet in which he warned that the North Korean leadership would not "be around much longer" if they continued their rhetoric. On 19 September, Trump had said the United States would "totally destroy" the North if it were forced to defend itself or its allies.

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