Korea presumed to be natural: S. Korean agency

Kim Jong-un

GETTY TRAUMATIC A defector supposedly witnessed horrific public executions under his rule

An escalating war of words between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un ratcheted up a notch on Friday as the United States president dubbed North Korea's leader a "madman", a day after the reclusive regime hinted it may explode a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. Trump signed the executive order two days after he warned North Korea of "total destruction" if its leader Kim Jong-Un, whom he mockingly described as a "Rocket Man", continued with his provocative behaviour.

On Tuesday, during what was his first appearance before the UN General Assembly, Trump said Kim was "on a suicide mission" and asserted that if North Korea continued its provocations, the United States would "have no choice but to totally destroy" the country.

Speaking before a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said his goal is the "complete denuclearization" of North Korea and added that the nation led by Kim Jong Un posed a "grave threat to peace and security in our world".

The U.S. sanctions - which will rightly sanction individual companies and institutions that finance trade with North Korea - are supported by the toughest economic sanctions on North Korea yet by the United Nations.

The threat from North Korea's nuclear and missile tests has dominated this year's gathering of world leaders, but divisions remain over how to confront Pyongyang.

In addition to the nuclear test, North Korea has launched dozens of missiles since Kim came to power in 2011.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged calm and likened the argument to a kindergarten scrap, with North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, expected to speak at the United Nations General Assembly later on Saturday.

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North Korea has been testing missiles at an unprecedented rate, and conducted its sixth nuclear test despite worldwide condemnation. Last month, the United States announced sanctions against five Chinese firms and one individual, two Singapore-based companies and three Russian citizens alleging that they supported North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Although the U.S. already penalises foreign firms having ties with North Korea's military programs, the wider ambit of the latest sanction would be applicable to all businesses. Nevertheless, many accuse the Trump administration of excessive and provocative rhetoric towards Pyongyang.

South Korean freelance journalist Jihyee Lee said the original statement in Korean used a term better translated as "old beast lunatic" but it became "dotard" in the English version released by North Korea.

The North Korean regime is intensely militaristic and bases its claim to legitimacy on defending the country from external aggression, and analysts say that Trump's comments are grist to its mill.

And it's possible that North Korea is able to undermine them.

China is imposing new limits on trade with North Korea after the isolated country's latest nuclear test. "Regarding which measures to take, I don't really know since it is what Kim Jong-un does", said Ri.

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