North Korea faces destruction if it continues to threaten the US and its allies, according to one of Donald Trump’s most senior diplomats, while the president unveiled the dismissive new nickname of Rocket Man for the country’s erratic ruler.
With world leaders gathering in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, when North Korea’s nuclear programme is expected to dominate, senior administration figures said time was running out for a diplomatic solution.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said North Korea was starting to feel the pinch of sanctions but added that she would be happy to turn the matter over to the military.
“We all know that if North Korea continues with this reckless behaviour and if the United States has to defend itself or its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed,” she said.
The warnings came a day after Kim Jong-un promised to continue his weapons programme saying he was close to reaching equilibrium with US military force despite fresh UN sanctions last week.
Mr Kim has threatened Guam, a US territory in the Pacific, and has fired two missiles over Japan, including one missile that was launched on Friday.
North Korea also recently tested its most powerful bomb.
For his part, Mr Trump tweeted that he had discussed the matter with Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, during a phone call on Saturday
I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2017
Mr Trump’s use of nicknames was a feature of the primary and election campaigns last year, and credited with helping defeat “Low Energy” Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination and implanting “Crooked Hillary” into the nation’s psyche.
HR McMaster, the White House national security adviser, warned of the imminent danger from Pyongyang.
“This regime is so close now to threatening the United States and others with a nuclear weapon, that we really have to move with a great sense of urgency on sanctions, on diplomacy and preparing, if necessary, a military option,” he told the Fox News’ Sunday programme.
Meanwhile the administration is still trying to explain its stance on the Paris climate accords, after a weekend headline suggested European officials had been told the US would not be withdrawing after all.
Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, said Mr Trump was willing…