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North Korea says Donald Trump’s labelling of Kim Jong-Un as “Rocket Man” has made “our rockets’ visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable”.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told the United Nations that Mr Trump had committed an irreversible mistake during his speech to the body in New York last week.

His comments came after it emerged the US had sent bombers to the North Korean border today in the closest they have been this century.

Foreign Minister Ri said if US lives were lost, Mr Trump ”will be held totally responsible”.

Ri, who said Pyongyang’s ultimate goal was to establish a “balance of power with the U.S.”, retorted that Trump himself was on a “suicide mission” after the U.S. president said Kim was on such a mission.

Ri warned Pyongyang was ready to defend itself if the U.S. showed any sign of conducting a “decapitating operation on our headquarters or military attack against our country”.

Donald Trump called Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man” during his UN speech this week

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying with F-35B fighter jets during a training drill earlier this month

Ri’s speech capped a week of escalating rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, with Trump and Kim Jong Un trading insults.

Trump called the North Korean leader a “madman” on Friday, a day after Kim dubbed him a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”

On Saturday, the mudslinging continued with Ri calling Trump “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency” who is trying to turn the United Nations into a “gangsters’ nest”.

“‘President Evil’ is holding the seat of the U.S. President,” Ri said, warning that Pyongyang was ready to defend itself if the United States showed any sign of conducting a “decapitating operation on our headquarters or military attack against our country”.

He said sanctions would have no effect on Pyongyang’s resolve.

He said the country’s nuclear force was ”a war deterrent” to end US nuclear threat and prevent a US invasion.

“Through such a prolonged and arduous struggle, now we are finally only a few steps away from the final gate of completion of the state nuclear force,” Ri told the annual gathering of world leaders.

“It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces.”

Ri said North Korean did not have any intention to use or threaten its nuclear weapons against countries that did not join US military action.

He added that Mr Trump’s speech at the UN was reckless and violent and he was trying to the turn the body into “a gangster’s nest where money is respected and bloodshed is the order of the day”.

Pyongyan would make sure that he bears the consequences far beyond his words and beyond the scope of what he can hand even if he was ready to do, the Foreign Minister added.

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Kim Jong-Un during the week as tensions increased with the US

Earlier tonight, reports emerged Mr Trump had sent bombers towards the North Korean border – the closest they’ve been in the 21st century.

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force which the Pentagon said demonstrated the range of military options available to the US President.

Foreign Minister Ri said if US lives were lost, Mr Trump would be held totally responsible

The mission was designed as a show of strength

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said: “This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take (North Korea’s) reckless behavior.”

She added: “This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat.”

Ms White went on to call North Korea’s weapons program “a grave threat.”

“We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”

Close up of a US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber

The Pentagon said the B-1B Lancer bombers came from Guam and the U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts came from Okinawa, Japan. It said the operation showed the seriousness with which it took North Korea’s “reckless behavior.”

The patrols came after officials and experts said a small earthquake near North Korea’s nuclear test site on Saturday was probably not man-made, easing fears Pyongyang had exploded another nuclear bomb just weeks after its last one.

Saturday’s seismic activity came just hours before North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho – who warned on Thursday that North Korea could consider a hydrogen bomb test of an unprecedented scale over the Pacific – was due to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Ri did not respond when asked by reporters whether North Korea had conducted a new nuclear test.

Hours earlier seismologists around the world had detected a small earthquake near North Korea’s nuclear test site

View of North Korea across the DMZ from observation post in South Korea

China’s Earthquake Administration said the quake was not a nuclear explosion and had the characteristics of a natural tremor. The administration had said earlier the magnitude 3.4 quake detected at 0829 GMT was a “suspected explosion”.

The CTBTO, or Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organization, which monitors nuclear tests, and officials of the South Korean meteorological agency also said they believed it was a natural quake.

The Pentagon and the US State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment

A US intelligence official and US-based non-governmental experts said their initial assessment was that the quake was either natural or connected to North Korea’s latest and largest nuclear test on Sept.3, and not caused by a new nuclear test.

“It seems likely that these small tremors are related to the shifts in the ground due to the recent large test,” said David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists in the United States.

Donald Trump has a range of military options available to deal with the grave threat of North Korea

Donald Trump called Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man” during his UN speech this week

A US government intelligence analyst said the events could have been a “mine-type” collapse of tunnels damaged by North Korea’s previous nuclear test, but was more likely a small earthquake.

An official of South Korea’s Meteorological Agency said acoustic waves should be detected in the event of a man-made earthquake.

“In this case we saw none. So as of now, we are categorising this as a natural earthquake.”

The earthquake, which South Korea’s Meteorological Agency put at magnitude 3.0, was detected 49 km from Kilju in North Hamgyong Province, where North Korea’s known Punggye-ri nuclear site is located, the official said.

All of North Korea’s six nuclear tests registered as earthquakes of magnitude 4.3 or above. The last test registered as a 6.3 magnitude quake.

A secondary tremor detected after that test could have been caused by the collapse of a tunnel at the mountainous site, experts said at the time. Satellite photos of the area after the Sept 3 quake showed numerous landslides apparently caused by the massive blast, which North Korea said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.

North Korea successfully conducts test of hydrogen bomb

The announcement of the successful H-bomb test was broadcast on state television

The head of the international nuclear test monitoring agency CTBTO said on Saturday that analysts were “looking at unusual seismic activity of a much smaller magnitude” than the Sept. 3 test in North Korea.

“Two #Seismic Events! 0829UTC & much smaller @ 0443UTC unlikely Man-made! Similar to “collapse” event 8.5 mins after DPRK6! Analysis ongoing,” CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo said in a Twitter post, referring to the Sept. 3 test.

Russia’s emergency ministry said background radiation in nearby Vladivostok was within the natural range.

The US Geological Survey said it could not conclusively confirm whether the quake, which it measured at magnitude 3.5, was man-made or natural.

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“The depth is poorly constrained and has been held to 5 km by the seismologist,” USGS said.

Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies at Monterey, California, said: “Seismologists are very good at discriminating between earthquakes and explosions. I see no reason to doubt that it was an earthquake.”

There was no immediate reaction from China’s Foreign Ministry, but the news was widely reported by Chinese state media outlets and on social media.

Tensions have continued to rise around the Korean Peninsula since Pyongyang carried out its sixth nuclear test, prompting a new round of U.N. sanctions.

US President Donald Trump called the North Korean leader a “madman” on Friday, a day after Kim dubbed him a “mentally deranged US dotard” who would face the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history”.

Normal life continues at the border areas of South Korea despite tensions rising due to the spat between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un

Kim was responding to a speech by Trump at the United Nations General Assembly in which Trump said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatened the United States or its allies.

On Thursday Trump announced new U.S. sanctions that he said allows the targeting of companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea.

Earlier on Saturday, China said it will limit exports of refined petroleum products from Oct. 1 and ban exports of condensates and liquefied natural gas immediately to comply with the latest U.N. sanctions. It will also ban imports of textiles from North Korea.

North Korea’s nuclear tests to date have all been underground, and experts say an atmospheric test, which would be the first since one by China in 1980, would be proof of the success of its weapons programme.

North Korea has launched dozens of missiles this year, several of them flying over Japan, as it accelerates a weapons programme aimed at enabling it to target the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.



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