By PETER BAKER and CHOE SANG-HUN
© 2017 New York Times News Service
President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it endangers the United States as tensions with the isolated nuclear-powered state grow into perhaps the most serious foreign policy challenge yet in his young administration.“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
The president’s comments came as North Korea earlier in the day escalated its criticism of the United States, as well as its neighboring allies, by warning that it will mobilize all its resources to take “physical action” in retaliation against the latest round of U.N. sanctions.
The statement, carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, was the strongest indication yet that the country could conduct another nuclear or missile test, as it had often done in response to past U.N. sanctions. Until now, the North’s response to the latest sanctions had been limited to strident yet vague warnings, such as threatening retaliation “thousands of times over.”
DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korea’s statement Tuesday appeared to defy efforts by both Washington and Beijing to defuse the tense situation.
On Monday, while attending a regional security meeting of foreign ministers in Manila, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson kept the door open for talks with North Korea, suggesting that the country should stop its recent string of missile launches to set the stage for negotiations over its weapons programs. At the same venue, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China said he told his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, that the North should stop carrying out nuclear and missile tests.
Incensed by the North’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month, the U.N. Security Council adopted a new sanctions resolution over the weekend. Backers of the resolution said the new sanctions would cut North Korea’s meager annual export revenue by about a third, impeding its ability to raise cash for its weapons programs.