North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong made his first trip to the United States since tensions escalated between the two countries following the former’s fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launch. But he didn't do much to quell those tensions.
Ri’s trip to the United Nations’ headquarters in New York came in the wake of an important global climate change deal. Speculation emerged the rare visit would provide a proper diplomatic platform for possible talks with U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State John Kerry.
However, negotiations seemed to be the last thing on the North Korean official’s mind.
Not only did he accuse Washington of plotting to launch a nuclear attack on the hermit kingdom, Ri also pinned the blame for North Korea’s nuclear program on the U.S. while subtly referring to the annual American military’s joint drills with South Korea.
Later, in pure Pyongyang fashion, Ri threatened to nuke the very country he was visiting.
"In order to remove nuclear threats, we tried dialogue and made efforts through international law, but everything went down the drain. The only thing left was to respond to nukes with nukes," he said.
Although relations between North Korea and the U.S. have remained frosty for quite some time now, the situation worsened over the past couple of months after Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch in February.
Previously, Western sanctions did little to discourage North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from attaining his nuclear aspirations. Its lone ally China always comes to its rescue. But this time around, even Beijing refused to support its rogue neighbor.
Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping assured his American counterpart President Barack Obama that he would see the latest sanctions — imposed in the wake of the latest nuclear test and rocket launch — would be "fully and strictly" implemented.