President Donald Trump warned North Korea on Wednesday not to “try us” as he admonished dictator Kim Jong-un for turning the country into “a hell”, rather than the “paradise” his grandfather had envisioned.
Wrapping up a visit to South Korea with a speech to the National Assembly in Seoul, the US president issued a stern message to Pyongyang that Washington “will not be intimidated”.
He also urged countries around the world to join together to isolate Pyongyang by denying it “any form of support, supply or acceptance”, singling out China and Russia.
“Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilised nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us,” he told South Korean lawmakers. “We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.
“The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens it with nuclear devastation,” Mr Trump added.
The North, which this year carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, has also fired dozens of missiles in recent months.
Two have overflown key US ally Japan, and the regime has claimed that it now has the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile that can travel as far as the US mainland.
Mr Trump, who previously vowed a North Korean Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capability would “never happen”, again warned Pyongyang not to consider an attack.
We will not “allow American cities to be threatened with destruction,” he said in Seoul.
“America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it.
“We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked,” he added.
Attacking the “cruel dictatorship” of Mr Kim, he addressed the leader directly, saying: “North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned, it is a hell that no person deserves.”
While the speech was heavy on Mr Trump’s usual anti-North Korean bombast, he also offered an olive branch.
“The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer,” he said. “They are putting your regime in great danger.
“Yet despite every crime you have committed against god and man, we will offer a path towards a much better future.”
The US president, who earlier on Wednesday aborted a visit to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, was heading later in the day to China, Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic ally and protector.