Vice Minister Han Song Ryol says North Korea "will go to war" with the U.S. if provoked

By Tierney McAfee
April 14, 2017 12:00 PM

North Korea’s vice foreign minister warned the U.S. on Friday that President Donald Trump‘s “aggressive” tweets are “making trouble” — and could potentially lead to a war between the two countries.

In a new interview with The Associated Press in Pyongyang, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said North Korea “will go to war” with the U.S. if provoked.

“If the U.S. comes with reckless military maneuvers then we will confront it with the DPRK’s pre-emptive strike,” Han said, calling his country by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “We’ve got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike.”

“We will go to war if they choose,” he said.

The warning comes after the U.S. sent an aircraft carrier strike group to waters off North Korea’s coast. The U.S. and South Korea are also currently participating in their largest-ever joint military exercises simulating a war with North Korea.

North Korea blames Trump for building up a “vicious cycle” of tensions in the region, Han told the Associated Press, citing the U.S.-South Korean wargames, the aircraft carrier launch — and this tweet Trump sent out on Tuesday:

Trump also tweeted on Thursday:

“Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words,” Han said. “So that’s why. It’s not the DPRK but the U.S. and Trump that makes trouble.”

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Also on Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for “all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage.”

North Korea, meanwhile, has been conducting nuclear weapons tests. The country recently carried out its fifth test, firing a ballistic missile into the sea on April 5, one day before the first meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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Asked when North Korea’s next nuclear test might be, Han said, “That is something that our headquarters decides. At a time and at a place where the headquarters deems necessary, it will take place.”

“As long as the nuclear threats and blackmail go on with the military exercises, we will carry forward with our national defense buildup, the core of which is the nuclear arms buildup,” Han said.

“Whatever comes from the U.S., we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it.”