A US military F-15C Eagle takes off at Japan's Kadena Air Base, bound for international airspace over the waters east of North Korea.
A US military F-15C Eagle takes off at Japan's Kadena Air Base, bound for international airspace over the waters east of North Korea. Senior Airman Quay Drawdy

Leaders exchange threats as missile crisis ramps up

NORTH Korea's Foreign Minister said it was inevitable missiles from his country would hit the US, hours after the American military flew bombers further north of the demilitarised zone than any US military plane in the 21st century and following a week in which Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un exchanged personal insults.

Mr Trump's insults made "our rockets' visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more", North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said during a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Ri said "no one other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission" and labelled the US President "a mentally deranged person full of megalomania".

Mr Ri said recent economic sanctions by the UN and the US would do very little to deter his country's plans to develop a nuclear force capable of hitting the US mainland.

"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," Mr Ri said.

"It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that (North Korea) would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions."

The President insulted Mr Kim during his first speech to the UN General Assembly last week, calling him "rocket man" and saying he was on a "suicide mission" if he kept developing his nuclear weapons program.

In response, Mr Kim released an unprecedented personal rebuke, calling Mr Trump a "dotard" and a "frightened dog".

Following those insults, North Korean officials indicated Mr Kim was considering a nuclear weapon test in the Pacific Ocean, sending Japan - which is between North Korea and those open seas - into a frenzy.

"It could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific," Mr Ri said then. "We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong-un."

Following that threat, the US military announced on Saturday it had flown bombers further north than they had flown those aircraft during the 21st century, as a show of force to let North Korea know the US had a range of options at its disposal.

Also on Saturday, seismographs picked up on a 3.5 magnitude earthquake in North Korea near the country's nuclear testing grounds, leading to concern the country had already tested a nuclear device.

"This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean nuclear tests," the US Geological Survey said. "We cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature of the event."



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