US President Donald Trump has said that America is "totally prepared" for a "military option" on North Korea but warned that would be "devastating", in a further escalation of tensions between the two nations.
The strong reaction from the US president came a day after North Korea said that it was ready to defend itself by shooting down US bombers.
North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, who was in New York early this week, had accused Trump of declaring war against his country.
"We are totally prepared for the second (military) option. Not a preferred option, but if we take that option, it will be devastating -- I can tell you that -- devastating for North Korea. That's called the military option. If we have to take it, we will," Trump told reporters yesterday in a joint news conference with the visiting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Responding to a question, Trump said that the North Korean leader (Kim Jong Un) is "acting very badly". He's saying things that should "never, ever" be said, alleged the US President.
"We are replying to those things, but it's a reply. It's not an original statement, it's a reply. But the things that he's said over the last year -- and if you look back to things that he's said to past administrations -- North Korea is a situation that should have been handled 25 years ago, 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, and five years ago, and it could have been handled much more easily," he said.
Various administrations left a mess for him (Trump) and he will fix the mess. "So we'll see what happens with North Korea," Trump said.
He said that North Korean nuclear weapons and missile development threaten the entire world with unthinkable loss of life. As such all nations must act now to ensure the regime's complete denuclearisation.
"It is time for all responsible nations to join forces, to isolate the North Korean menace," Trump said as he appreciated the United Nations Security Council voting twice, unanimously, 15 to nothing, to adopt hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea.
"I have recently issued tough new sanctions against those who do business with this outlaw regime. And I applaud China's latest action to restrict its trade with North Korea," he said and applauded China for breaking off all banking relationships with North Korea. This is something that people would have thought unthinkable even two months ago, he said.
"I want to thank President Xi," he said.
Responding to a question, Rajoy said no one wishes for there to be a war anywhere in the world.
"But it's true that the recent events in North Korea, with the implications in the neighbouring countries -- very important countries, means that we will have to be forceful, and those of us who defend the values of democracy, freedom and human rights have to let North Korea know that it isn't going anywhere in that direction," Rajoy said.
"For the time being, sanctions have been adopted. Spain will support any political decision which will contribute to putting an end to this situation, which has nothing to do with the principles and values most of Western and global democracies defend," he said.