Donald Trump is throwing verbal punches at North Korea once again. This time they aren’t just his usual threats and petty insults that he often slings on Twitter. Calling Kim Jong-un a “little rocket man” is one thing, but accusing the nation of human rights violations during a speech in South Korea is quite another.
The speech from President Trump, which he delivered from Seoul, contained some of his harshest criticism against Kim Jong-un yet. He asked other countries to deny North Korea “any form of support, supply or acceptance” and accused the country of treating its population like slaves.
Speaking to the North Korean leader, he said: ‘The weapons that you are acquiring are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.”
Trump continued to favor a defensive approach, ordering sanctions and military pressure, rather than offering any sort of diplomatic solution.
Kim Jong-un immediately hit back, issuing a media statement that warned Trump if the US kept attempting to “strangle North Korea”, that it would suffer a “bitter defeat”.
North Korean media also accused the US of being at the “height of shamelessness”, and called Trump’s remarks “military gambling”.
“If the US imperialists try to alarm the DPRK with nuclear threat and blackmail, it will be a big mistake,” the statement continued. “The more the US engrossed in its daydream persists in the reckless military threat and moves to strangle the DPRK, the bitterer defeat it will suffer.”
This war of words has come just one day after North Korean defectors have claimed that the nation’s extensive nuclear tests have started to lead to babies being born with deformities, as well as destroying 80% of plant life in the vicinity.
President Trump is currently engaging on a tour of Asia, and has just landed in China where he will attempt to persuade President Xi Jinping to do more to convince North Korea to stop their nuclear weapons program.
China has previously supported United Nations sanctions against North Korea and imposed its own financial restrictions on the country. However, Trump believes China could be harsher, especially considering Kim Jong-un relies heavily on their neighbours, economically.
When Trump returns to the US from his Asia trip next week, the White House will make a decision about whether or not to re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. This designation was previously lifted in 2008 by former president George W. Bush.
Bush had North Korea removed from the terror list in an attempt to “lure them into reversing the threat and of course that didn’t work out,” said a senior White House official.
“So I would remind that they clearly fit the criteria for state-sponsored terror in a previous administration,” the official said under condition of anonymity.
Trump wrapped up his visit to South Korea by telling Kim Jong-un: “Do not underestimate us and do not try us.”
If Trump does re-designate North Korea to the terror list, it is likely that Kim Jong-un will respond, especially if official talks in China do lead to more sanctions. While it is unclear whether North Korea will issue any more statements in response, they do not show any signs or movement toward denuclearization.
This is obviously not the first time the outlandish leaders have clashed verbally. Remember in September when Kim Jong-un described the US president as being “mentally deranged”?