SOMERSET, N.J. — President Donald Trump on Sunday mocked the leader of nuclear-armed North Korea as “Rocket Man” while White House advisers said the isolated nation would face destruction unless it shelves its weapons programs and bellicose threats.
The warnings came a day after Kim Jong Un pledged to continue those programs, saying North Korea is nearing its goal of “equilibrium” in military force with the United States.
North Korea will be high on the agenda for world leaders this coming week at the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump’s biggest moment on the world stage since his inauguration in January.
Trump is scheduled to address the world body, which he has criticized as weak and incompetent, on Tuesday.
Trump, who spent the weekend at his New Jersey golf club, tweeted that he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in discussed North Korea during their latest telephone conversation Saturday.
Asked about Trump’s description of Kim, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said “Rocket Man” was “a new one and I think maybe for the president.” But, he said, “that’s where the rockets are coming from. Rockets, though, we ought to probably not laugh too much about because they do represent a great threat to all.”
McMcaster said Kim is “going to have to give up his nuclear weapons because the president has said he’s not going to tolerate this regime threatening the United States and our citizens with a nuclear weapon.”
Asked if that meant Trump would launch a military strike, McMaster said “he’s been very clear about that, that all options are on the table.”
Some doubt that Kim would ever agree to surrender his arsenal.
“I think that North Korea is not going to give up its program with nothing on the table,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Kim has threatened Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, and has fired missiles over Japan, a U.S. ally. North Korea also recently tested its most powerful bomb.
The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously twice in recent weeks to tighten economic sanctions on North Korea, including targeting shipments of oil and other fuel used in missile testing. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said North Korea was starting to “feel the pinch.”
Trump, in a tweet, asserted that long lines for gas were forming in North Korea, and he said that was “too bad.”
Haley warned of a tougher U.S. response to future North Korean…