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.
Trump's chief diplomat held out hope the North would return to the bargaining table, though the president's envoy to the United Nations said the Security Council had "pretty much exhausted" all its options.
Kim Jong Un has pledged to continue the North's programs, saying his country 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."