North Korea faces “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it escalates its nuclear threat, Donald Trump has warned.
In arguably his sharpest rhetoric yet, the US president appeared to threaten Pyongyang with military action if it did not cease its development of nuclear weapons.
His warning came days after the UN passed sharp new sanctions against North Korea in response to its test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile – said to be capable of hitting the US.
Adding to fears the secretive state’s missile programme is gathering pace, a leaked report from US intelligence published in the Washington Post suggested the one-party state has successfully miniaturised nuclear warheads which can fit inside missiles.
In a statement on Tuesday, Trump criticised developments in Pyongyang and its recent threat to exact “thousands-fold” revenge against the US.
“He [Kim Jong-un] has been very threatening, beyond a normal state,” Trump said.
“They will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
The exchange of threats between Washington and Pyongyang comes as leaked reports suggested North Korea was now capable of fitting a nuclear warhead onto a missile.
The secretive state could therefore have taken a crucial step towards becoming a fully-fledged nuclear power.
US intelligence officials made the assessment in a report published last month, according to the Washington Post, citing unnamed sources.
The revelation follows North Korea successfully test-firing its first intercontinental ballistic missile – something it claimed could strike the US.
Tensions between the two nations have increased sharply in recent weeks, reaching new levels with the passing of new sanctions against North Korea on Saturday.
The United Nations Security Council voted in favour of the new resolutions by 15 to 0, targeting £770 million worth of exports out of North Korea.
While the move was welcomed by the US and South Korea, North Korea described it as a “heinous US plot to isolate and stifle” the country.