U.S. President Donald Trump dialed 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 toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States – something Trump has vowed to prevent.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday tried to dial back Trump’s comments.
“The president doesn’t want to be in a nuclear war and we will do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t occur,” he said on ABC News. “On the other hand, the president will protect the American people and our allies.”
Analysts say the heated 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.