President Donald Trump has fired off a tweet against North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, claiming to have a “more powerful” nuclear weapons launcher.
Trump’s tweet, amid a barrage of angry posts, is a belated response to Kim’s New Year speech, in which the North Korean leader claimed, “The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk.”
“This is reality, not a threat,” Kim said, adding that “these weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.”
Trump tweeted in return that not only is his own “Nuclear Button” bigger and better, but it actually works. He sarcastically pleaded Tuesday night for “someone from his depleted and food starved regime” to “please inform” Kim of those claims.
In Kim’s New Year message, he also offered some hope of a thaw in relations with South Korea, saying he is open to talks over the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics. Trump attributed that to “sanctions and ‘other’ pressures” starting to have an impact on North Korea, before returning to his usual belligerent attitude.
Late last month, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved more sanctions on North Korea, which the hermit kingdom condemned as an “act of war.” The sanctions were approved in retaliation to an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch, which North Korea has since commemorated with a stamp showing Kim overlooking the defiant move.
Tensions have been building on the Korean peninsula, spurred on by combative US rhetoric. The White House has vowed to put “maximum pressure on Pyongyang,” with America’s UN envoy Nikki Haley saying earlier the North would be “utterly destroyed” should there be war. Adding fuel to the fire, the US and South Korea have persisted with their joint military drills on the North’s borders.
Moscow, while also condemning North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities, has been urging moderation and mutual concessions. Russia’s call for calm has been blatantly snubbed by Washington.