North Korean nuclear negotiations have returned to name-calling as U.S. President Donald Trump has revived his “Rocket Man” insult for North Korean Kim Jong Un and Kim appears ready to return to calling Trump a “Dotard.”
Choe Son Hui, the first vice foreign minister for North Korea warned against Trump’s comments reserving the U.S. right to military action against North Korea, and repeating a 2017 insult he used to describe Kim, Reuters reported. The return to name-calling comes as North Korea has threatened a year-end deadline to finalize a denuclearization agreement.
Trump apparently sparked the new insult exchange during remarks he made at a NATO summit in England. Trump said he had a “really good” diplomatic relationship with Kim, but urged Kim to follow up on his commitment to denuclearization, stating the U.S. military is powerful and is prepared to use it if North Korea returns to aggression.
“We have the most powerful military we ever had, and we are by far the most powerful country in the world and hopefully we don’t have to use it. But if we do, we will use it,” Trump said.
Trump went on to say Kim “likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man.”
Throughout nuclear negotiations, North Korea has agreed to stop nuclear testing, however, the country has in recent months returned to testing the ballistic missiles that may one day carry a hostile nuclear payload. Kim has said the missile tests are warnings to the U.S. and South Korea.
In response to Trump’s remarks, Choe said his words incited “waves of hatred of our people against the U.S.” as they “showed no courtesy when referring to the supreme leadership of dignity.”
“If this is meant to make expressions, reminiscent of those days just two years ago when a war of words was fought across the ocean, surface again on purpose, it will be a very dangerous challenge,” Choe said.
The North Korean representative himself returned to a line of insult used in the past against Trump.
“If any language and expressions stoking the atmosphere of confrontation are used once again on purpose at a crucial moment as now, that must really be diagnosed as the relapse of the dotage of a dotard,” Choe said.
On Tuesday, North Korean diplomat Ri Thae Song warned of the impending deadline and said, “What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
Song’s “Christmas gift” remarks appeared to present a thinly veiled threat that North Korea would “gift” the U.S. with a return to hostility if they did not acquiesce to North Korean concessions on their denuclearization, including an end to economic sanctions placed against the country.
North Korea’s army chief expressed his own disappointment at Trump’s remarks suggesting the use of U.S. military force against North Korea. He warned a military strike would see “prompt corresponding actions” in retaliation.