North Korea threatened Thursday to use nuclear weapons to "sink" Japan and turn the United States into "ashes and darkness," in reaction to the new U.N. sanctions imposed over its nuclear and missile programs.
"The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us," said the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which is North Korea's official propaganda arm.
Juche, which translates as "self-reliance," is Pyongyang’s ruling ideology, a blend of Marxism and hyper-nationalism.
The sanctions were unanimously adopted by the United Nations Security Council this week after North Korea’s sixth, and possibly most powerful, nuclear test this month. Leader Kim Jong Un had also threatened to launch missiles over Japan into the Pacific and toward the U.S. territory of Guam.
The moves have elicited a series of counter-threats from President Trump, although the possibility of war remains remote. The North Korean statement also called for the breakup of the U.N. Security Council, calling it "a tool of evil" and comprised of "money-bribed" nations.
Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, called the North's comments extremely provocative and outrageous" and said that if "North Korea stays the course that it is on, it will increasingly become isolated."
Suga said the North's statement "significantly escalates tensions in the region."
In Seoul, the South Korean government said it was considering providing the North, via U.N. agencies, $8 million in aid for humanitarian assistance for infants and pregnant women, according to the South's Yonhap News Agency.
"The government's basic stance is that humanitarian assistance to those who are vulnerable in North Korea should be continued regardless of political considerations," the agency reported, citing Seoul's unification ministry, which aims to promote Korean reunification.
The U.N. estimates about 18 million North Koreans out of its population of 25 million suffer from food shortages and malnutrition.
The new U.N. sanctions ban North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates and cap imports of crude oil at the level of the last 12 months. A ban was also placed on its textile exports — its largest export after coal and other minerals. The measures prohibit all countries from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers. All are important sources of currency for the isolated nation. The sanctions add to restrictions on iron ore exports and limits to Pyongyang’s use of foreign banks.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks in London with senior British and French officials on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. A report Thursday in the Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper, said that satellite imagery appeared to indicate that North Korea was preparing for another long-range missile test.
Pyongyang was expected to test an intercontinental ballistic rocket last Sunday as North Koreans celebrated the country’s 69th anniversary of its founding, but the test did not happen.