UNITED NATIONS —
North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Monday the United States has declared war on his country and Pyongyang would take counter-actions if threatened, including shooting down American war planes in the region.
Ri directly linked U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments Saturday night on social media platform Twitter to the threat.
In a tweet late Saturday responding to Ri’s United Nations General Assembly speech earlier in the day, Trump wrote: “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!”
On Monday, North Korea's foreign minister responded:
“Given the fact that this comes from someone who is currently holding the seat of United States presidency, this is clearly a declaration of war," Ri told reporters outside his New York hotel.
"The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country," Ri continued. "Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers, even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country,” he warned.
“The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then,” Ri said, before walking toward his vehicle. A moment later, he returned to the microphones and added a final point.
“In light of the declaration of war by Trump, all options will be on the operations table of the supreme leadership of the DPRK,” he said referring to North Korea by its acronym.
The comments follow an escalation in rhetoric between North Korean leaders and Trump last week, during and on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Describing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” on a suicide mission, Trump used his maiden address to the U.N. General Assembly last Tuesday to warn the Pyongyang regime that its current course could lead to "total destruction."
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded with a statement calling Trump a "dotard" expressing "mentally deranged behavior.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said if North Korea carried out the threat of a hydrogen bomb test, it would be a "shocking" irresponsibility.
"This would be a shocking display of irresponsibility toward global health, toward stability, toward non-proliferation," Mattis told reporters early Monday, on route to New Delhi for talks this week with Indian officials.
North Korea's Ri said Saturday that his country could conduct an atmospheric hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean.
William Gallo contributed to this report