North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un said on Friday the North will consider the "highest level of hardline countermeasure in history" against the United States in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to destroy the North.
Calling Trump "mentally deranged" and his comments "the most ferocious declaration of a war in history," Kim said his UN speech on Tuesday confirmed Pyongyang's nuclear program has been "the correct path".
"His remarks ... have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last," Kim said in the statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, promising to make Trump "pay dearly for his speech".
Trump had warned the North Korean leader in his UN address on Tuesday that the United States, if threatened, would "totally destroy" the country of 26 million people and mocked Kim as a "rocket man" on a suicide mission.
It was the U.S. president's most direct reference to military action so far against the North, which conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3.
In addition to the nuclear test, North Korea has launched dozens of missiles since Kim came to power in 2011. Two recent ballistic missiles flew over Japan as Pyongyang advanced toward its goal of creating nuclear warhead-tipped missiles that can hit the United States.
Kim said Trump would face "results beyond his expectation," without specifying what action North Korea would take next.
"I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire," Kim said in the rare direct statement, referring to Trump.
He offered more vitriol for Trump, saying he was "unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician."
His foreign minister, asked on a visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly what the countermeasure would be, said his country may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.
"I think it could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific," Ri Yong Ho said, according to South Korean TV. "We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un."
Kim's statement was unusual because it was written in the first person. North Korean state TV later showed a solemn-looking Kim, dressed in a gray Mao-style suit, reading the statement. South Korea's government said it was the first direct address to the world by any North Korean leader.
Some analysts saw a clear sign that North Korea will ramp up its already brisk pace of weapons testing, which has included missiles meant to target U.S. forces throughout Asia and on the U.S. mainland.
An H-bomb test in the Pacific, if realized, would be considered a major provocation by Washington and its allies. North Korea has conducted six nuclear test explosions since 2006, all at its northeastern underground test site.
A day after Trump's address, Ri had likened Trump to a "barking dog," saying his comments were no threat to the North.
Kim took a page out of Ri's book on Friday, saying "a frightened dog barks louder".
"Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world.., we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hardline countermeasure in history," Kim said.
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