WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump Friday called North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un a “madman” whose regime will be “tested like never before” after Kim called the president a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”
Those swapped insults led to a threat, by North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho in New York, that the country might test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
If North Korea follows through with that nuclear test, the United States and its allies would consider it a major provocation and Trump would have to decide how to respond.
The exchange followed Trump’s announcement Thursday of ramped-up economic sanctions on North Korea, and his UN speech Tuesday in which he responded to Kim’s buildup of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities by calling him “rocket man” who is on a “suicide mission.”
“I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech,” Kim said in a rare personal statement through the official Korean Central News Agency.
“I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation,” Kim said.
“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged dotard with fire,” Kim of said of Trump, referring to the president’s age with a term that means an old person who has become weak or senile.
Trump shot back in a tweet: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!”
Friday night, during a rally in Alabama for Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), Trump kept up his attacks on Kim.
“We can’t have madmen out there shooting rockets all over the place,” Trump said. He also said, “Rocket Man should have been handled a long time ago” by previous presidents.
Ri said the possible hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean could fulfill Kim’s vow to take the “highest-level” action against the United States, according to The Washington Post.
“It could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific,” Ri said. “We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.”
Kim’s statement expressed anger at Trump’s announcement of new sanctions on North Korea that expand the U.S. Treasury Department’s ability to target anyone who conducts significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, banning them from the U.S. financial system.
Trump’s response to Kim was one of a string of tweets he posted Friday morning from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Trump said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and any other Republican senators who vote against the Graham-Cassidy bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, will forever be known as “the Republican who saved Obamacare.”
He also retweeted a compliment about his UN speech and complained about the Russia investigation and news coverage of it, calling reports of Russian election meddling a “hoax.”