Hours after U.S. President Donald Trump touched down in Japan on the first leg of his Asia tour on Sunday, North Korea warned him against making any “reckless remarks.”
Trump told troops during an arrival ceremony at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo that “no dictator” should ever underestimate his country.
In a commentary in the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper widely regarded as an official source of Pyongyang’s viewpoints, the North blasted Trump over what it said was his unpredictability.
“Nobody can predict when Trump does a reckless act,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted the paper as saying. “The only and one way for checking his rash act is to tame him with absolute physical power.”
Trump, in his speech to a throng of U.S. and Japanese service members, did not mention North Korea or its leader, Kim Jong Un, by name, though he did offer some not-so-subtle digs at the young dictator and his country.
“No one, no dictator, no regime and no nation, should underestimate . . . American resolve,” Trump said. “Every once in a while in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?” he added.
The isolated North has endured tough U.N. sanctions on its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, managing to conduct a raft of weapons tests this year, including its most powerful atomic blast and launches of a long-range missile experts say could strike most of the U.S.
Trump has taken an approach of piling “maximum pressure” on the nuclear-armed North, but it has been his hard-line pronouncements that have riled Pyongyang.
Known to derisively refer to Kim as “rocket man,” Trump has also variously threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” and to “totally destroy” the country of 25 million people if the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies, including Japan.
In response, the North has pledged the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history,” saying that the “U.S. should be tamed with fire.”
The true meaning remains unclear, but North Korea’s foreign minister said in September the country might soon conduct a test of what it claims is a hydrogen bomb somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
“If the U.S. misjudges the DPRK’s toughest will and dares to act recklessly, the latter will be compelled to deal a resolute and merciless punishment upon the former with the mobilization of all forces,” Sunday’s commentary said, using the North’s formal name.
“We warn Trump’s coteries once again: If they want to get rid of ruin, do not make reckless remarks.”