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Trump cranks up North Korea threats as Pyongyang holds anti-U.S. rally

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS  – U.S. President Donald Trump dialled up the rhetoric against North Korea again at the weekend, warning the country’s foreign minister that he and leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer”, as Pyongyang staged a major anti-U.S. rally.

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday that targeting the U.S. mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Trump called Pyongyang’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump said on Twitter late on Saturday.

Trump and Kim have traded increasingly threatening and personal insults as Pyongyang races towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States – something Trump has vowed to prevent.

Analysts say the escalation in rhetoric is increasing the risk of a miscalculation by one side or the other that could have massive repercussions.

North Korea’s state-run television KRT aired a video on Sunday showing tens of thousands of people attending an anti-U.S. rally at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang.

The North’s official KCNA news agency said more than 100,000 people gathered for the rally on Saturday and delivered speeches supporting comments made by Kim earlier in the week.

“We are waiting for the right time to have a final battle with the U.S., the evil empire, and to remove the U.S. from the world,” KCNA quoted Ri Il-bae, a commanding officer of the Red Guards, as saying. “Once respected Supreme commander Kim Jong Un gives an order, we will annihilate the group of aggressors.”

UNPRECEDENTED

In an unprecedented direct statement on Friday, Kim described Trump as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” whom he would tame with fire.

Kim said the North would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States and that Trump’s comments had confirmed his nuclear programme was “the correct path”.

Kim’s comments came after Trump threatened in his maiden UN address on Thursday to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people.

It was not clear from Trump’s latest tweet if he was referring to Ri and Kim, or North Korea more broadly.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on Sept. 3, prompting another round of U.N. sanctions. Pyongyang said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

“It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the DPRK (North Korea) would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces,” Ri told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

An anti-U.S. rally at Kim Il Sung Square is seen in this September 23, 2017 photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on September 24, 2017. Placards read (L-R) “A global military power”, “Be through with the U.S.”, “The U.S. is evil’s headquarters”, “Old foe the U.S.”

BOMBERS

U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighters flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force the Pentagon said indicated the range of military options available to Trump.

 

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