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(2nd LD) N. Korea says Trump's words were declaration of war

All Headlines 02:32 September 26, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, Pentagon's response; CHANGES photos)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's foreign minister said Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump has declared war against his country and Pyongyang will defend itself by shooting down American bombers if necessary.

Ri Yong-ho made the statement in front of his New York hotel following an exchange of bombastic threats between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In a Saturday tweet, Trump warned that Kim and his regime "won't be around much longer."

"It is clearly a declaration of war because those were words by an incumbent American president," Ri said. "As long as the U.S. has declared war, from now on, even if U.S. strategic bombers don't fly into our airspace, we will hold all the rights to self-defense, including the right to shoot them down at a time of our discretion."

On Saturday, the U.S. flew B-1B bombers in international airspace off North Korea's eastern coast in a show of force that demonstrated its resolve to counter nuclear and ballistic missile threats from Pyongyang.

"We will see then who lasts longer," Ri said.

This AP photo shows North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho in front of his New York hotel on Sept. 25, 2017. (Yonhap)

Last week saw an escalation in tensions between Washington and Pyongyang after Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea in the event of an attack on the U.S or its allies.

Kim retorted that he would consider the "highest-level" countermeasures, which Ri then said could involve the most powerful detonation of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

On Saturday, the minister told the U.N. General Assembly that a strike on the U.S. mainland was "inevitable" as Trump called Kim "Little Rocket Man."

"For the past few days, the U.N. and the international community earnestly wished that the North Korea-U.S. war of words would not lead to action," Ri said. "But last weekend, Trump ultimately declared war by saying again that our leadership will not last long."

The U.N. charter recognizes all member states' right to self-defense, he said.

Getting into his car, he told reporters that "all options" will be placed on the North Korean leadership's table of military action in the wake of Trump's "declaration of war."

The Pentagon responded with a similar warning.

"If North Korea does not stop their provocative actions, we will make sure that we provide options to the president to deal with North Korea," Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning told reporters.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test early this month. In recent weeks, it also launched a series of ballistic missiles, including two over Japan and two of intercontinental range.

Washington has repeatedly said all options, including a military strike, are on the table to deal with Pyongyang's threats.

Analysts say it is only a matter of time before the regime attains its goal of having a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

This AFP photo shows North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho in front of his New York hotel on Sept. 25, 2017. (Yonhap)


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