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United States President Donald Trump told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19, that the United States could “destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies. He disparagingly called North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man” in his statement, “Rocket man is on a suicide mission,” referring to the rising tensions in the conflict between the United States and North Korea. Before he made these statements in his United Nations speech, Trump has also stated that “all options are on the table” in dealing with North Korea, and that the United States would reign down “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to advance its nuclear program or attempted to attack the United States or its allies.
BBC News cites Stewart Patrick of a New York think tank, The Council on Foreign Relations, who believes that President Trump’s statement is “implausible.” He stated that he “think[s] the folks in the Pentagon when they look at military options are just aghast at the potential loss of life that could occur with at a minimum hundreds of thousands of South Koreans killed in Seoul.”
North Korea’s response to President Trump’s speech was voiced by Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, who likened the speech to “the sound of a barking dog.” He told reporters in New York that “there is a saying that goes: even when dogs bark, the parade goes on.” Foreign Minister Ri was also asked for his opinion on Trump calling Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man,” to which he responded, “I feel sorry for his aides.”
Last month, North Korea announced that it intends to enact missile tests near the United States-held territory of Guam in the Pacific. The BBC reports that experts say North Korea is making surprisingly quick progress with its long-range missiles.
More recently, the United Nations imposed increased sanctions on North Korea in response to its continued missile testing in the Pacific. The sanctions restrict oil imports and ban textile imports, which is meant to starve North Korea’s economy. In response to the sanctions, North Korea warned that it would only increase its efforts to advance its nuclear program. Pyongyang called the sanctions “the most vicious, unethical and inhumane act of hostility.” North Korea has also stated that it believes the goal of the sanctions to be to “physically exterminate the country’s people, system, and government.”
On Thursday, South Korea said that it would be providing humanitarian aid to North Korea. They have not provided aid to the north in over two years. The aid will come in the form of $8 million provided through United Nations programs aimed at pregnant women and improved medical supplies, according to the BBC. This aid will be necessary for the people of North Korea who will be suffering from the increased sanctions placed by the United Nations in early September.