In the escalating war of words between the United States and North Korea, the latter just fired a verbal bomb by way of Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. The Independent quotes the official as telling reporters in New York on Monday that "the whole world should clearly remember it was the US who first declared war on our country. Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to [take] countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country." It's not the first fiery statement made by Ri in recent days. More on the situation:
- Background: Ri was the one who previously likened Trump to a barking dog, and in a UN speech on Saturday, he called President Trump "a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency" whose decision to call Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man" makes "our rocket's visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more." Trump responded, tweeting this Saturday night: "Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!"
- Today's response to Ri: Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the subject head-on in Monday's White House press briefing. "We've not declared war on North Korea, and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd." CBS News has more: "It's never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country's aircraft when it's over international waters. Our goal is still the same: We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That's our focus, doing that through both the most maximum economic and diplomatic pressures as possible at this point."
- "How worried should we be?" That's the question Joshua Keating asks at Slate. It's "pretty scary" stuff, he admits, but he cautions against overreacting and explains why. He also points out that "in some sense the US and North Korea are already at war," as the Korean War of 1950-1953 didn't end with a peace treaty.
- About those bombers: The AP reports America flexed its military muscle on Saturday as well, with US bombers and fighter escorts entering international airspace off North Korea's east coast and flying to the farthest point north of the Demilitarized Zone of any American aircraft in the 21st century.
- Who is Ri, anyway? According to a Sept. 16 article in the Atlantic by Joel S. Wit, he may be our "best chance for finding a way forward because of his close ties to the ruling Kim family"; Wit explains why here. The Guardian calls him the "diplomat who could defuse the crisis."
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