US President Donald Trump has lashed out on North Korea in his latest tweet, saying his nuclear button is "much bigger and more powerful" than Kim Jong-un's. Trump's warning came a day after Kim bragged about his country's nuclear programme.
In his New Year address, the 30-something dictator also warned the US, saying, "The entire mainland of the US is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office. They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality."
Warning the diplomatically isolated nation, the Republican president tweeted on Tuesday (2 January) night, "North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times'. Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
While on one hand, the North Korean leader dished out nuclear threats to the US in his speech, he also hinted that he was "open to dialogue" with South Korea to reduce tensions in the Korean Peninsula. Trump responded to that comment earlier in the day, stating, "Sanctions and 'other' pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea."
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, too issued a harsh warning to the Pyongyang regime on the same day. "As we hear reports that North Korea might be preparing for another missile test — I hope that does not happen, but if it does — we must bring even more measures to bear on the North Korea regime," she said, as quoted by the CNN.
Haley also said that the US "will never accept a nuclear North Korea".
"So North Korea can talk with anyone they want but the US is not going to recognise it or acknowledge it until they agree to ban the nuclear weapons that they have," she added.
Tensions have sharply escalated in recent months between the two countries, with both constantly stepping up their warnings against each other. The series of threats from Washington as well as Pyongyang also led countries like Japan, Russia and China to take preemptive measures in case of a nuclear war. Both Tokyo and Beijing were reported to be giving evacuation training to citizens to be prepared if a war breaks out, while Kremlin was reported to be mobilising its troops and equipment along its border with North Korea.