If North Korea carries out its latest threat to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, Japan’s defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, says his country could be in its direct path. Onodera noted that such a test could involve a nuclear device mounted on a medium-range or intercontinental ballistic missile.
The prospect of the rogue regime testing a hydrogen bomb in the region rose after North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, said Pyongyang could respond to Trump’s recent threat of military action by testing a powerful nuclear weapon in the Pacific.
“We cannot deny the possibility it may fly over our country,” said Itsunori Onodera, hours after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un called President Donald Trump “deranged” and vowed that he would “pay dearly” for threatening to destroy his regime. Kim also said that Trump was “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country” and described the U.S. president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.”
Kim’s incendiary statement was published by North Korea’s state propaganda arm in response to Trump’s fiery speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. South Korean media noted that it was the first such direct address to the world by Kim.
South Korean media reported on Thursday that North Korea’s foreign minister suggested the Communist nation may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean after the angry dictator vowed he would take the “highest-level” action against the United States.
The Yonhap news agency reported on comments made to reporters by Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Ri was scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, a day later than previously scheduled.
“We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un,” Ri told reporters.
The U.S., South Korea, and Japan would consider the testing of a hydrogen bomb a major provocation by Pyongyang.
Some analysts saw Kim’s statement as a clear announcement that North Korea intends to test even more weapons, with missiles meant to target U.S. forces throughout Asia and the U.S. mainland.
On Tuesday, Trump mocked Kim, calling him “rocket man” and saying he’s on a “suicide mission.” He also stated that the U.S. is “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
Kim characterized Trump’s speech to the world body as “mentally deranged behavior.”
He said Trump’s remarks “have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.”
Kim said he was “thinking hard” about his response and that Trump “will face results beyond his expectation.”
Kim Dong-yub, a former South Korean military official, who is now an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said Kim’s statement indicated that North Korea would respond to Trump with its most aggressive missile test yet. That could include firing a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan at a range of around 4,349 miles to display a capability to reach Hawaii or Alaska.
In recent months, the North has tested a pair of ICBMs it said can strike the continental United States and a pair of intermediate-range missiles that soared over Japanese territory. Earlier this month, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, inviting stiffer U.N. sanctions.
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