The Pentagon said it would provide President Donald Trump with options to deal with Pyongyang if the provocations continue. Earlier, North Korea’s foreign minister said his country reserves the right to shoot down US bombers in international airspace.
“If North Korea does not stop their provocative actions, you know, we will make sure that we provide options to the President to deal with North Korea,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning told reporters on Monday.
The statement follows remarks by North Korea’s top diplomat at the UN on Monday, who said Donald Trump’s tweet that leader Kim Jong-un “won’t be around much longer” was a declaration of war by the United States.
“The whole world should clearly remember it was the US who first declared war on our country,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”
Trump tweeted on Saturday: “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!”
Last week, Trump said the US may have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” (population 26mn) if the US or its allies are threatened, as he addressed the UN General Assembly.
On Sunday, the White House announced a new extended travel ban that will restrict travel to the US from North Korea, as well as Chad and Venezuela, based on “security or safety threat.”
The new restrictions, which come as a result of a review of previous travel bans challenged in US courts, are set to take effect on October 18.
“North Korea does not cooperate with the United States government in any respect and fails to satisfy all information-sharing requirements,” the White House said in the proclamation on its website.
The restriction bans entry to the US of nationals from North Korea as immigrants or nonimmigrants.
On Thursday, President Trump issued a new executive order giving the US broad powers to sanction individuals, companies, and financial institutions that facilitate trade with North Korea.
The UN Security Council has already passed substantial economic sanctions against North Korea, including targeting shipments of oil and other fuel used in missile testing, after Pyongyang reportedly tested a hydrogen bomb.
Under the UN resolution passed on September 11, all oil imports are banned and international assets of the government and its leaders have been frozen.
The resolution also banned North Korea from importing natural gas liquids and condensates. It also banned all textile exports and prohibits any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers – two key sources of hard currency for the country.
Pyongyang has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of rulings by the UN Security Council, while the US has continued to carry out joint exercises with South Korea and Japan while ramping up its own war of words against Pyongyang.
Russia and China have repeatedly called for a ‘double-freeze’ solution to the crisis, in which the United States ceases its drills with South Korea in exchange for the North suspending its weapons programs.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaking to reporters on Friday urged all parties to stick to a diplomatic approach to the Korean Peninsula crisis, condemning both the reckless tests of Pyongyang and belligerent rhetoric of the US.
“We have to calm down the hotheads and understand that we need pauses, we need contacts,” Lavrov said when discussing the North Korean issue in New York.
However, Washington has not accepted the proposal, saying it has every right to carry out exercises with its allies.