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Pyongyang threatens H-bomb test over Pacific Ocean

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 22/09/2017
Kim Jong-un said Trump is 'unfit' to command a country [AFP/Getty Images] © Provided by Al Jazeera Kim Jong-un said Trump is 'unfit' to command a country [AFP/Getty Images]

North Korea says it may test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after US President Donald Trump threatened to destroy the country, whose leader simultaneously promised to make a "mentally deranged" Trump pay dearly for his threats.

Speaking in New York City on Friday, Ri Yong Ho, the North's foreign minister, said his country could consider a hydrogen bomb test of an unprecedented scale on the Pacific Ocean, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

Japan, the only country ever to suffer an atomic attack, described the threat as "totally unacceptable".

Ri also said he did not know Kim's exact thoughts, according to the report.

Trump said in his first address to the UN on Tuesday he would "totally destroy" North Korea, a country of 26 million people, if it threatened the US and its allies, and called Kim a "rocket man" on a suicide mission.

In a rare statement directly attributed to the North's leader, Kim Jong-un said Trump is "unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country", and described Trump as "a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire".

North Korea says it needs a sturdy nuclear deterrence to protect it from the US, and its government has made militarism a central part of its national ideology.

The country's stated aim is to be able to target the US mainland and it has shown off advances in its nuclear weapons programme in recent weeks, with a September test of what it said was a miniaturised hydrogen bomb capable of being loaded onto a rocket.

Kim characterised Trump's speech at the UN General Assembly as "mentally deranged behaviour" and "the most ferocious declaration of a war in history".

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 is "thinking hard" about his response and that Trump "will face results beyond his expectation".

It is unusual for the North Korean leader to issue such a statement in his own name.

It will further escalate the war of words between the adversaries.

"Now that Trump has … insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world, we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history," Kim said.

The US and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.

The North accuses the US, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.

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