North Korea blames Trump for aggression, issues warning

PYONGYANG, North Korea — President Donald Trump’s tweets are adding fuel to a “vicious cycle” of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s vice foreign minister told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Friday. The official added that if the U.S. shows any sign of “reckless” military aggression, Pyongyang is ready to launch a pre-emptive strike of its own.

Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is “more vicious and more aggressive” than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama. He added that North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in “quality and quantity” and said Pyongyang is ready to go to war if that’s what Trump wants.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington go back to President Harry Truman and the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. But the heat has been rising rapidly since Trump took office in January.

&Nbsp;

This year’s joint war games between the U.S. and South Korean militaries are the biggest ever; the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier has been diverted back to the waters off Korea after heading for Australia; and U.S. satellite imagery suggests the North could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time. Pyongyang recently tested a ballistic missile and claims it is close to perfecting an intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear warhead that could attack the U.S. mainland.

Many experts believe that at its current pace of testing, North Korea could reach that potentially game-changing milestone within a few years — under Trump’s watch as president. Despite reports that Washington is considering military action if the North goes ahead with another nuclear test, Han did not rule out the possibility of a test in the near future.

“That is something that our headquarters decides,” he said during the 40-minute interview in Pyongyang, which is now gearing up for a major holiday — and possibly a big military parade — on Saturday. “At a time and at a place where the headquarters deems necessary, it will take place.”

 

The North conducted two such tests last year alone. The first was of what it claims to have been a hydrogen bomb and the second was its most powerful ever.

The annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises have consistently infuriated the North, which views them as rehearsals for an invasion. Washington and Seoul deny that, but reports that exercises have included “decapitation strikes” aimed at the North’s leadership have fanned Pyongyang’s anger.

Han said Trump’s tweets have also added fuel to the flames.

Trump posted a tweet Tuesday in which he said the North is “looking for trouble” and reiterated his call for more pressure from Beijing, North Korea’s economic lifeline, to clamp down on trade and strengthen its enforcement of U.N. sanctions to persuade Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Trump has threatened that if Beijing isn’t willing to do more to squeeze the North, the U.S. might take the matter into its own hands.

“Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words,” Han said. “It’s not the DPRK but the U.S. and Trump that makes trouble.”

North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Han said the sanctions approach is misguided and cited the opening ceremony of a sprawling new high-rise residential area in Pyongyang on Thursday as evidence that sanctions have failed to ruin the country’s economy. Leader Kim Jong Un presided over the ceremony before about 100,000 residents and a large contingent of foreign journalists who have been allowed in to cover the holiday.

Han dismissed the suggestion Trump made last year during his presidential campaign that he was willing to meet Kim Jong Un, possibly over hamburgers.

“I think that was nothing more than lip service during the campaign to make himself more popular,” Han said.

“Now we are comparing Trump’s policy toward the DPRK with the former administration’s and we have concluded that it’s becoming more vicious and more aggressive,” Han said.

“Whatever comes from U.S. politicians, if their words are designed to overthrow the DPRK system and government, we will categorically reject them,” he said.

Han said North Korea changed its military strategy two years ago, when the reports of “decapitation strike” training began to really get attention, to stress pre-emptive actions.

“We’ve got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike,” he said. “Whatever comes from the U.S., we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it.”

How much such comments are bluster, or how realistic they are, is hard to gauge.

Later Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said all sides must stop provoking and threatening and start taking a flexible approach to resuming dialogue. He said China is willing to support any such effort.

“Once a war really happens, the result will be nothing but multiple-loss. No one can become a winner,” Wang said. “No matter who it is, if it wants to make war or trouble on the Korean Peninsula, it must take the historical responsibility and pay the due price.”

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Han’s remarks on the North’s readiness to conduct a nuclear test and even go to war reveal the “true colors of North Korea’s government that is bellicose and a breaker of regulations.”

The ministry issued a statement saying North Korea will face strong punishment it will find hard to withstand if it makes a significant provocation, such as another nuclear test or an ICBM launch.

Military experts generally agree a shooting war with North Korea would likely be far more costly than something along the lines of the recent targeted strike Trump ordered against a Syrian air base believed to be linked to a chemical weapons attack by the regime of Bashir Assad. That attack alarmed the North and was condemned as “unpardonable” by Pyongyang, which counts Syria as an ally.

Even without nuclear weapons, the North could cause severe damage and casualties with its conventional artillery batteries aimed at the South Korean capital of Seoul. North Korea’s military is also heavily dug in, meaning it could be hard to find and destroy key targets, or to secure the North’s nuclear weapons even if its leadership were attacked.

Despite talk of conflict in the halls of power, life in Pyongyang has been pretty much normal over the past week as the country gears up for its biggest holiday of the year: the 105th anniversary of the birth of the late Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder and leader Kim Jong Un’s grandfather.

The Saturday anniversary may provide the world with a look at some of its arsenal. Expectations are high the North may put its newest missiles on display during a military parade that could be held to mark the event.

Another big military holiday comes on April 25, when its army marks its anniversary.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father recalls the night his 14-year-old son died jumping into moving traffic
From the Clark County Detention Center, Ezequiel Anorve Serrano talks about the night his 14-year-old son, Silas Anorve, died jumping into moving traffic on U.S. 95. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Palace Station unveils new sports book
Palace Station talks about the new sports book Thursday, August 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
One of world's longest racetracks planned in Pahrump by 2020
The racetrack will be 16 miles long by the year 2020 according to Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club owner John Morris. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Robotics takes off at Las Vegas Academy
Las Vegas Academy’s robotics team made it all the way to the world competition last year, the first year the team competed. Zackary Perry describes how they programmed their robot to compete. The team is an example of what Tesla wants to have in every school in the state. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like