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NUKEWARS
US labels N. Korea 'war' claim absurd, as Pyongyang boosts defences
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) Sept 26, 2017


US calls N. Korea nuclear bomb test threat 'shocking'
New Delhi (AFP) Sept 25, 2017 - US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday it would be "shocking" irresponsibility for North Korea to carry out its threat to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

The new comments, made while Mattis headed for India, followed a shrill war of words between the North Korean and US leaders over Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

Pyongyang's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Saturday that his country could test a nuclear bomb over the Pacific.

"This would be a shocking display of irresponsibility for global health, towards stability, towards non-proliferation," Mattis told reporters on his flight to India.

He declined to comment when asked if such a test would constitute an act of war.

Amid bitter wrangling between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, US bombers and jet fighters flew off the North Korean coast on Saturday in a show of force.

The North's nuclear programme will be one of the regional security topics raised by Mattis with Indian leaders during his three-day stay.

North Korea says Trump has declared war on his country
New York (AFP) Sept 25, 2017 - North Korea's foreign minister accused US President Donald Trump on Monday of declaring war on his country and warned that Pyongyang would defend itself by shooting down US bombers.

"Trump claimed our leadership would not be around much longer," North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters outside his hotel in New York. "He declared a war on our country."

"All the member states and the whole world should clearly remember it was the United States that first declared war on our country," Ri said.

"Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to take counter-measures including the right to shoot down US strategic bombers even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country," he said.

"The question of who won't be around much longer will be answered then."

In his first address to the General Assembly, Trump last week threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if it challenged America or its allies and derided leader Kim Jong-un as a "rocket man" who was "on a suicide mission."

Ri noted that the statement from Trump was "clearly a declaration of war" even if it came from the US president. Under the US Constitution, Congress is the sole power that can declare war.

In his brief address to reporters before heading to the airport, Ri said that the international community had hoped that the "war of words between the DPRK and the United States not turn into real actions."

The North Korean nuclear crisis has dominated this year's gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, which wraps up on Monday, amid fears that the heated rhetoric could accidentally trigger a war.

North Korea in recent weeks detonated its sixth nuclear bomb and has test-fired intercontinental missiles -- saying it needs to defend itself against hostility from the United States and its allies.

During his address to the General Assembly on Saturday, Ri launched a personal attack on Trump, calling him a "mentally deranged person full of megalomania."

Just hours before Ri took the UN podium, US bombers flew off the east coast of North Korea, the furthest north of the demilitarized zone that any US aircraft has flown this century.

The Pentagon said the mission was a "demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat."

Trump's threat to destroy North Korea made "our rockets' visit to the entire US mainland all the more inevitable," Ri said on Saturday.

The United States dismissed as "absurd" North Korea's accusation that President Donald Trump has declared war against the regime, after Pyongyang said it was ready to defend itself by shooting down American bombers.

Speaking to reporters outside his New York hotel, Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho responded to Trump tweeting at the weekend that North Korea's leadership "won't be around much longer" if it keeps up its threats.

Ri, who attended this year's UN General Assembly session, said the international community had hoped that a "war of words" would "not turn into real actions."

"However, last weekend, Trump claimed our leadership would not be around much longer," Ri said. "He declared a war on our country."

The White House disputed Ri's interpretation of Trump's sabre-rattling.

"We have not declared war against North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Alarm over Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes dominated this year's gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, amid fears the heated rhetoric could accidentally trigger a war.

Those fears were sharpened after US bombers flew off the coast of North Korea on Saturday -- going furthest north of the demilitarized zone that any US aircraft has flown this century.

"Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to take counter-measures including the right to shoot down US strategic bombers even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country," said Ri.

"The question of who won't be around much longer will be answered then."

South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) said that while Pyongyang did not appear to have picked up the presence of the US B-1B Lancer warplanes over the weekend, it had since moved to bolster its coastal defences.

"North Korea relocated its warplanes and strengthened defences along the east coast," said Lee Cheol-Woo, the chief of the National Assembly's intelligence committee.

- Risk of accidental clash -

As the rhetoric heated up, South Korea appealed for an easing of tensions, with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha saying that further provocations can be expected from Pyongyang but must not be allowed to get out of control.

"It is imperative that we, Korea and the US together, manage the situation... in order to prevent further escalation of tensions or any kind of accidental military clashes which can quickly go out of control," Kang said in Washington.

South Korea has reacted with unease to Trump's threat to "totally destroy" North Korea as its densely-populated capital Seoul is located just 35 miles from the demilitarized zone dividing the Korean peninsula.

In his UN address last week, Trump delivered the blunt threat, deriding leader Kim Jong-un as "Rocket Man" and declaring he was "on a suicide mission".

Kim hit back with a personal attack on Trump, branding him "mentally deranged" and a "dotard" and warning he would "pay dearly" for his threat.

There have been repeated appeals for calm from the United Nations, Russia and China.

Asked about the North Korean minister's latest remarks, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: "When you have the rise of tension, the rise of rhetoric, so does the risk of miscalculation."

North Korea has in recent weeks detonated its sixth nuclear bomb and test-fired intercontinental missiles -- saying it needs to defend itself against the threat of a US invasion.

A Pentagon spokesman stressed on Monday that the bombers flew in international airpace and had every right to do so.

In his UN address, Ri warned that Trump's threat to destroy North Korea made "our rockets' visit to the entire US mainland all the more inevitable".

The bellicose rhetoric comes as international alarm mounts over Pyongyang's weapons ambitions -- including a suggestion by Ri last week that the country is considering detonating an H-bomb over the Pacific.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said such a move would be a "shocking display of irresponsibility."

As tensions over North Korea reached fever-pitch, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a snap election, hoping to capitalize on a boost in the polls that some say is linked to his hawkish stance toward Pyongyang.

Asian financial markets sank in early trade Tuesday, as investors sought out safe havens in response to the flare-up in tensions. Gold was up more than one percent, while the Japanese yen recovered recent losses against the dollar.

NUKEWARS
Chinese traders get down to business at Pyongyang trade show
Pyongyang (AFP) Sept 25, 2017
It was a tale of just two economies when the 13th Pyongyang International Trade Fair opened in the North Korean capital on Monday, with two-thirds of the exhibitors domestic firms, and almost all the others Chinese. Eight sets of progressively tighter United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes have left its economy progres ... read more

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