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NK: Trump speech is ‘a dog’s bark’

Off the track

NK: Trump speech is ‘a dog’s bark’

North Korea’s top diplomat has called US President Donald Trump’s speech to the UN “the sound of a barking dog”. Speaking to the UN General Assembly, Trump said he would “totally destroy” North Korea if it posed a threat to the US or its allies. Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho’s comments were North Korea’s first official response to the speech. The North has continued to develop its nuclear and weapons programmes, in defiance of a UN ban. Ri told reporters near the UN headquarters in New York: “There is a saying that goes: ‘Even when dogs bark, the parade goes on’.” “If [Trump] was thinking about surprising us with the sound of a barking dog then he is clearly dreaming.” Speaking about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump had told the UN: “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime.” When asked what he thought of Trump calling Kim “rocket man”, Ri responded: “I feel sorry for his aides.” Ri is set to make a speech to the UN on Friday. Separately, on Thursday South Korea said it would send fresh humanitarian aid to the North for the first time in nearly two years. The unification ministry in Seoul plans to provide $8m (£6m) through UN programmes aimed at children, pregnant women and improving medical supplies. The decision comes days after the UN approved new sanctions against Pyongyang, restricting oil imports and banning textile exports - an attempt to starve the North of fuel and income for its weapons programmes. The UN sanctions came in response to the North’s latest nuclear test on 3 September. Experts say North Korea has made surprisingly quick progress in its development of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. The North Korean stand-off is a crisis that, at worst, threatens nuclear war, but it’s complicated. Let’s take a step back. Why does North Korea want nuclear weapons? The Korean peninsula was divided after World War Two and the communist North developed into a Stalinesque dictatorship. Almost entirely isolated on the global stage, its leaders say nuclear capabilities are its only deterrent against an outside world seeking to destroy it. North Korea claims it has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb - many times more powerful than an atomic bomb - that can be miniaturised and loaded on a long-range missile. State media called the test “a perfect success”, and although analysts said the claims should be treated with caution, leaked information suggests US intelligence officials do believe North Korea is capable of miniaturisation. Pyongyang views the US as its main adversary but also has rockets aimed at South Korea and Japan, where thousands of US troops are based.

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