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N. Korea: 'Dialogue not possible' with Trump

August 10, 2017

In another escalation of strong rhetoric, Pyongyang has accused US President Donald Trump of being "bereft of reason." Both Japan and South Korea have warned the North over its latest threats to the US territory of Guam.

North Korea rally against the US
Image: Getty Images/AFP/K. Won-Jin

North Korea's military on Thursday described overt threats from US President Donald Trump as a "load of nonsense," marking another uptick in strong rhetoric increasing tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

"Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him," the military said in comments carried by state-run news agency KCNA.

Read more: Can North Korea's elites oust Kim Jong Un?

The report added that actions the North Korean military "is about to take" will be effective in restraining Washington's "frantic moves." North Korean military officials said plans for an attack on the US territory of Guam will be ready by mid-August, after which they will be presented to the country's leader Kim Jong Un. 

A South Korean soldier walks past a television screen showing a graphic of the distance between North Korea and Guam
A South Korean soldier by a TV screen in Seoul showing the distance from North Korea to GuamImage: Getty Images/AFP/J. Yeon-Je

Tensions have soared in the past week with Trump striking a combative tone, saying Tuesday that North Korea "best not make any more threats" against the US. "They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen," he added.

Guam concerned about rhetoric

Guam Senator Benjamin Cruz told DW that despite North Korea's possible plans to strike the US island territory, local residents are continuing on with their lives.

"The people are concerned but there is no panic," Cruz said but said the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang was most troubling.

"We're really more concerned about the almost irresponsible and provocative statements coming from both people who purport to be the leaders of two nations," he told DW.

On Thursday, a deputy assistant to Trump, Sebastian Gorka told BBC radio: "Donald Trump has been unequivocal: he will use any appropriate measures to protect the United States and her citizens."  

"We do not telegraph our future scenarios and how we are going to react," Gorka said. "If you show players around a table your poker hand, you will lose that game. It is not a good idea in cards, it is a very bad idea in geopolitics."

EU adds to sanctions list

Amidst the fiery back-and-forth between Washington and Pyongyang, the European Union said on Thursday that it had expanded its North Korean sanctions list. 

The additions to the blacklist are part of a new United Nations resolution following North Korea's latest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) tests. 

North Koreans strike a defiant note

Nine individuals and four entities, including the state-owned Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), were added to the North Korea list. The EU sanctions list now includes 103 individuals and 57 entities.

Read more: Do EU sanctions really work?

'Never tolerate' provocations

Early Thursday, both Japan and South Korea warned Pyongyang over its latest threats.

South Korea's military said Pyongyang would face a "stern and strong" response from Washington and Seoul if it goes ahead with plans to fire rockets near Guam.

The US and South Korea are prepared to "immediately and sternly punish" provocations from North Korea, said Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Tokyo added that Japan "can never tolerate" such provocations from North Korea. Japan's Defense Ministry noted that technically the country could intercept a Guam-bound missile if it appeared to be an existential threat.

US State Secretary Rex Tillerson on Wednesday tried to defuse the situation, telling reporters aboard his plane that there wasn't "any immediate threat" to the island of Guam after Pyongyang said it was considering plans to target areas surrounding the US territory.

"Americans should sleep well at night," he said in an attempt to calm fears of a possible military conflict between the US and North Korea. "Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours."

Map of the Pacific Ocean showing Guam and Hawaii, the US and North Korea

Beijing: Situation 'sensitive'

Several world powers, including Germany, have urged both sides to show restraint. China has described the situation as "highly complicated and sensitive."

"We hope all relevant parties speak cautiously and move prudently, stop provoking each other, avoid further escalating the situation and strive to return to the correct track of dialogue and negotiations as soon as possible," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

Read more: What is China's role in the North Korean crisis?

Meanwhile, North Korea on Wednesday said it had released Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian citizen, on humanitarian grounds.

The 61-year-old Lim, who had worked as a Presbyterian pastor in Canada, was arrested in North Korea in early 2015 and handed a life sentence of hard labor. Pyongyang claims the pastor was attempting to overthrow the regime, which Canadian authorities vehemently deny.

rs, ls/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)