North Korea considers Trump tweet declaration of war

North Korea's foreign minister called President Donald Trump's weekend Twitter threat "a declaration of war" and responded with a new warning in New York Monday.

“The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho.

“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country,” said Ri.
President Trump's tweet on Saturday referred to Ri and mentioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by a name President Trump had used earlier in the week during his speech to the United Nations.

The tweet said "if he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer."

The ramped up rhetoric comes after a weekend of tension.

U.S. bombers flew in international airspace close to the North Korean coast Saturday, the farthest north any U.S. warplane has flown since the turn of the century.

That same day, North Korea held a rally against the United States, with an estimated 100,000 people in Pyongyang and the foreign minister said in a speech at the United Nations that President Trump's insults were "making our rocket's visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more."

The White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denied any U.S. move towards war Monday.

"We have not declared war on North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd," said Sanders.

But concern is growing.

Christine Hong, associate professor at U.C. Santa Cruz says many North Koreans remember the bombings and civilian deaths during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. The war was suspended but never formally ended.

"This isn't merely a war of words, we have to understand this within a longer historical context," said Hong, "so when Donald Trump makes what may for him might be casual threats or empty threats, on the North Korean end that is tied to a history of enormous devastation."

Hong says North Korea has proposed suspending its nuclear testing in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea ending their annual spring and summer war games.

"It's really hard to imagine that anyone in the United States would consider it to be okay, if Russia and Cuba were to perform similar war games off the coast of the United States," said Hong.

Political analyst Brian Sobel says while the rhetoric might be bluster, it also increases the risks of threats turning to action.

"I think by and large people would really like President Trump to move away from tweeting," said Sobel, "It's not good for international relations. And the more you prod two countries going back and forth, the more there's a chance for an accident or something untoward to occur."

In San Francisco, Twitter responded Monday to criticism that President Trump's tweet was a threat that should have been removed for violating Twitter's conduct code.

The Twitter response on its public policy page says some tweets are considered newsworthy and it plans to post its criteria for removing tweets for better transparency.

North Korea, meantime, proceeded as normal on Monday with the opening of its annual international trade show, despite U.N. economic sanctions. Organizers say 81 countries are participating including Vietnam, Italy and China.