President Donald Trump has declared war on North Korea, that country’s foreign minister said Monday.
The remarks by Ri Yong Ho were in response to Trump’s address last week to the UN General Assembly where he threatened the U.S. would be forced to "totally destroy" North Korea.
"The fact that this comes from someone who is currently holding the seat of the U.S. presidency is really a declaration of war," Ri told reporters in New York.
"We will have every right to take counter measures, including right to shoot down U.S. strategic bombers even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country," he said through a translator. "The question of who won't be around much longer will be answered then.”
A White House spokeswoman pushed back on the suggestion war had been declared. "Not at all. We have not declared war on North Korea, and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd," Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
“It’s never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country’s aircraft when it’s over international waters," Sanders said.
"Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That’s our focus," she added.
The war of words between the leaders of the two nations has recently escalated as North Korea continues to defy the international community with missile and nuclear tests.
A sixth nuke test Sept. 3 by North Korea drew a ninth UN Security Council resolution since 2006.
South Korea responded positively to Trump's terse warning to its neighbor, with Seoul's presidential office calling it a “firm and specific stance.”
In the wake of repeated North Korean missile launches and the latest nuclear test, Trump referred to leader Kim Jong-un as a "rocket man on a suicide mission,” in his address to the UN.
By Canberk Yuksel in New York