Last month, North Korea’s foreign minister drafted a letter to the Association of ten Southeast Asian Nations – known collectively as ASEAN – warning them of a “nuclear holocaust” if it refuses to join forces with the Hermit Kingdom in opposition to the United States.
In that March 23 letter addressed to ASEAN’s chief Le Luong Minh from Vietnam, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho insisted the situation on the Korean Peninsula was “reaching the brink of war” because of Washington’s actions. According to the Daily Mail, the letter was in response to U.S military drills in the region, which were prompted by North Korea’s illegal launch of a series of missiles.
“As you know, due to the annual war games in South Korea conducted by the United States and South Korea, the situation in the Korean Peninsula is out of control,” the letter reads, according to the Asia News Network. “It is a fact clear to everyone that when they deploy the means of nuclear strike that can drive the Korean Peninsula into a nuclear holocaust in just seconds … the nature of such exercises can in no way be defensive.”
On Saturday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the current chairman of ASEAN, warned President Donald Trump that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un “simply wants to end the world,” according to Reuters. “The guy (Kim) simply wants to end the world, that is why he is very happy. He is always smiling. But he really wants to finish everything and he wants to drag us all down.”
Prior to a scheduled phone call with Trump on Saturday, Duterte told a news conference after the ASEAN summit in Manila, “There seems to be two countries playing with their toys and those toys are not really to entertain,” referring to Washington and Pyongyang.
He reportedly added that he would urge Trump not to provoke Kim. “Who am I to say that you should stop? But I would say ‘Mr. President, please see to it that there is no war because my region will suffer immensely.'” He added, “I will just communicate to (Trump), ‘just let him play … do not play into his hands.'”
Also on Saturday, Reuters reported that North Korea again test-fired a ballistic missile, several hours after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that failure to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to “catastrophic consequences.”
Saturday marked North Korea’s communist dictator Kim’s fourth unsuccessful missile launch since March.
As Kim continues to provoke the United States, South Korea, and other nations it sees as threats to his dictatorship, President Trump has warned that there is a “chance” of a major conflict in the region.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump said, “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely. We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”