PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea’s vice foreign minister on Friday blamed President Donald Trump for building up a “vicious cycle” of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, saying that his “aggressive” tweets were “making trouble.”
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Pyongyang, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol also warned the U.S. against provoking North Korea militarily, saying, “We will go to war if they choose.”
“If the U.S. comes with reckless military maneuvers then we will confront it with the DPRK’s pre-emptive strike,” Han said, referring to North Korea 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.”
Speaking through an interpreter provided by the foreign ministry, Han was calm and polite but forceful throughout the 40-minute interview.
Tensions are deepening as the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to waters off the peninsula and is conducting its biggest-ever joint military exercises with South Korea. Pyongyang, meanwhile, recently launched a ballistic missile and some experts say it could conduct another nuclear test at virtually anytime.
“That is something that our headquarters decides,” Han said of what would be North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. “At a time and at a place where the headquarters deems necessary, it will take place.”