North Korean state media has warned of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of US aggression as a US Navy strike group steamed towards the western Pacific.
US President Donald Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished neighbour, said in a Tweet North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without China’s help.
Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula with talk of military action by the US gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria and amid concerns the reclusive North may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.
North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the country was prepared to respond to any aggression by the US.
“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the US mainland,” it said.
South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn warned of “greater provocations” by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring and to ensure close communication with the US.
“It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries including the Supreme People’s Assembly,” he said.
Mr Trump said in a tweet a trade deal between China and the US would be “far better for them if they solved the North Korea problem”.
“If China decides to help, that would be great,” he said.”If not, we will solve the problem without them!”
Mr Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met in Florida last week and the US President pressed Xi to do more to rein in North Korea.
The North has convened a Supreme People’s Assembly session, one of its twice-yearly sessions in which major appointments are announced and national policy goals are formally approved. It did not immediately release details.
But South Korean officials took pains to quell talk in social media of an impending security crisis or outbreak of war.
North Korea is emerging as one of the most pressing foreign policy problems facing the Trump administration.
The North has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the US.
The Trump administration is reviewing its policy towards North Korea and has said all options are on the table, including military strikes, but US officials said non-military action appeared to be at the top of the list.
Russia’s foreign ministry, in a statement ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said it was concerned about many aspects of US foreign policy, particularly on North Korea.
“We are really worried about what Washington has in mind for North Korea after it hinted at the possibility of a unilateral military scenario,” the ministry said.”It’s important to understand how that would tally with collective obligations on de-nuclearising the Korean peninsula, something that is underpinned in UN Security Council resolutions.”