Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang continue to grow as North Korean state media warn that a simmering conflict between the two nations could turn into a full-blown war at any given moment.
Even an accident could now lead to an all-out armed conflict, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) warned, adding that if Washington resorts to military force Pyongyang would promptly respond in kind.
The stark warning comes a day after US President Donald Trump threatened to use the military might of “the most powerful country in the world” against Pyongyang if he has to. At the same time, he also boasted averting no less than a “World War III” as he took credit for defusing tensions with North Korea.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he still had confidence in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but noted that Kim “likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he?”
“That’s why I call him Rocket Man,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with the head of NATO in London He said he hoped Kim would denuclearize, but added: “we’ll find out.”
North Korea fired two short-range projectiles into the sea off its eastern coast last week in the latest test of its large multiple-rocket launcher. It was seen as an effort to remind the United States of a year-end deadline Kim has set for Washington to show flexibility in stalled denuclearization talks.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet behind closed doors on Wednesday – at the request of France, Britain and Germany – to discuss the latest missile launches by Pyongyang, diplomats said. The 15-member Security Council banned North Korea’s use of ballistic missiles in 2006.
North Korea earlier on Tuesday accused the United States of trying to drag out denuclearization talks ahead of the U.S. presidential election next year.
Trump said he was also pressing ahead with negotiations with allies South Korea and Japan to shoulder more of the cost of stationing U.S. troops in those countries.
He said South Korea last year agreed to pay nearly $500 million a year more for U.S. “protection,” and added the United States now wanted additional commitments.
Asked if it was in the U.S. national security interest to have U.S. forces stationed on the Korean peninsula, Trump said: “It can be debated. I can go either way. I can make arguments both ways.”
Negotiations between the two nations have meanwhile reached a sort of a deadlock. Washington and Pyongyang expressed their commitment to the idea of the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearization in exchange for lifting sanctions from Pyongyang back in June during the first direct talks between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Yet, making concrete steps in that direction has proved much more difficult.
The second Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam this February collapsed because of disagreements over the timing of sanctions relief. The latest round of working-level talks in October failed to result in any meaningful progress. Pyongyang then said that it is up to Washington to decide what kind of gift it would get for Christmas.
“But I do think this, I think if we’re going to do it, they should burden-share more fairly,” Trump said.