North Korea warned a United Nations committee on Monday that a nuclear conflict “may break out any moment,” continuing a bombastic war of words between the East Asian country and the United States that has only increased in recent months.
Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., told the General Assembly’s disarmament committee that his country was now a “full-fledged nuclear power which possesses the delivery means of various ranges, including the atomic bomb, H-bomb and intercontinental ballistic rockets,” according to The Associated Press.
“The entire U.S. mainland is within our firing range, and if the U.S. dares to invade our sacred territory even an inch it will not escape our severe punishment in any part of the globe,” Kim said.
The comments, while severe, are relatively routine and echo those made by North Korean diplomats and state media on an almost continuous basis. The country often threatens to turn Washington and the South Korean capital, Seoul, into a “sea of fire,” and Pyongyang has released propaganda clips showing simulated attacks on the U.S.
But the administration of President Donald Trump has amped up its own rhetoric in return in recent months. The president has threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and mocked its leader, Kim Jong Un, as a suicidal “rocket man” on Twitter. Kim notably fired back at Trump last month with his own wordplay, calling the American leader a “mentally deranged dotard.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has continued to work on a diplomatic solution, telling CNN on Sunday he would continue to engage with North Korea “until the first bomb drops.”
Trump “has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically,” Tillerson continued, dismissing tweets by Trump earlier this month that said the secretary was wasting his time. “He’s not seeking to go to war.”
The U.N. has passed a series of sweeping sanctions against North Korea, which Pyongyang has said are having a “colossal” effect. But the country has continued to reject proposals to hold any peace talks with South Korea.
Ambassador Kim said Monday that the country would continue to develop its nuclear arsenal, calling it a “precious strategic asset that cannot be reversed or bartered for anything.”
“Unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the U.S. is thoroughly eradicated, we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table under any circumstances,” he said.
Trump will visit South Korea next month and speak with President Moon Jae-in, as well as the country’s National Assembly. Reuters has reported that Trump may visit the Demilitarized Zone, following up on a trip Vice President Mike Pence took to the region in April.
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