North Korea's foreign minister has told the United Nations that Donald Trump will regret his decision to belittle Kim Jong-un as 'Rocket Man'.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told the United Nations on Saturday that Trump had made an "irreversible mistake".
Ri said his country's nuclear force was "a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the US and for preventing its military invasion" and that Trump's depiction of Kim as "Rocket Man" makes "our rocket's visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more."
Earlier this week, Trump told the UN that he would "totally destroy" North Korea if it doesn't end its nuclear path and called Kim a "Rocket Man" who was "on a suicide mission for himself and his regime".
Ri fired back yesterday, saying, "no one other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission" and labelling the US President "a mentally deranged person full of megalomania".
It came as US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers have been escorted by fighter jets which flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea.
The flyover demonstrated the range of military options available to Trump, the Pentagon said.
"This is the farthest north of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) any US fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea's coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take (North Korea's) reckless behaviour," said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White.
TENS OF THOUSANDS COME OUT AGAINST TRUMP
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Pyongyang residents gathered in the capital's Kim Il-Sung Square overnight to laud leader Kim Jong-un's denunciation of Trump.
Ranks of workers and residents listened, their fists clenched, as speakers repeated Kim's denigration of Trump as "mentally deranged" and a "dotard".
The US president dubbed Kim "Rocket Man" in a speech at the United Nations last week in which he threatened to "totally destroy" the North if it attacked the US or its allies.
In a statement on Friday Kim responded by saying that "a frightened dog barks louder" and Trump would "pay dearly" for his comments - triggering the US head of state to describe him as a "madman".
On one side of the square a giant poster depicted innumerable red missiles plunging towards a collapsing US Capitol, with the slogan "Korea's Answer".
The bellicose rhetoric between Kim and Trump has become increasingly personal, and raised fears of miscalculation in the standoff over the North's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
"I would like to put down my pen and take up arms again to perform my duty to defend the fatherland," said Pyongyang Mechanical University student Ri Il Ung, 24.
"Trump is a warmonger and a backstreet gangster," he added. "It's quite ridiculous that such a person could become a politician."
Thousands of people marched through the square, past portraits of Kim's predecessors, his father and grandfather Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-Sung, behind a banner proclaiming: "Let us safeguard with our lives the central committee of the party headed by the great comrade Kim Jong-un." Environmental protection ministry official Han Kwang Nam told AFP: "We fear nothing, we are not afraid because we have the greatest ever general, the respected Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong-un.
"We will surely gain victory."
EARTHQUAKE HITS NORTH KOREA
It comes as a shallow3.5-magnitude earthquake hit North Korea near the country's nuclear test site Saturday, US seismologists said, in what China's seismic service said was a "suspected explosion", but Seoul deemed a "natural earthquake".
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake struck around 20 kilometres away from the North's nuclear test site, where earlier this month it detonated its sixth and largest device, which it claimed to be a hydrogen bomb capable of being launched onto a missile.
"This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean Nuclear tests. We cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event. The depth is poorly constrained and has been held to 5km by the seismologist," USGS said in a statement.
Regional experts differed on their analysis of the tremor, with China's China Earthquake Network Centre (CENC) service calling it a "suspected explosion", while Seoul's Korea Meteorological Agency (KMA) judged it a "natural quake".
"There is no possibility that this could be an artificial quake," Yonhap news agency quoted a KMA official as saying.
The CTBTO, or Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organisation, which monitors nuclear tests, and officials of the South Korean meteorological agency said they believed it was a natural quake.
The North's last test, on September 3, was the country's most powerful detonation, triggering a much stronger 6.3-magnitude quake that was felt across the border in China.
A second tremor soon after that test was possibly caused by a "cave-in", CENC said at the time.
The move prompted global condemnation, leading the UN Security Council to unanimously adopt new sanctions that include restrictions on oil shipments.
War of words
This week marked a new level of acrimony in a blistering war of words between Kim and Trump, with the US leader using his maiden speech at the United Nations to warn that Washington would "totally destroy" the North if the US or its allies were threatened.
The North, which says it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against the threat of invasion by a hostile US, responded on Friday with a rare personal rebuke from Kim.
Washington announced tougher restrictions on Friday aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program, building on tough new United Nations sanctions aimed at choking Pyongyang of cash.
Russia and China have both appealed for an end to the escalating rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang.
But on the fringes of the UN meeting this week, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho upped the tensions further, telling reporters Pyongyang might now consider detonating a hydrogen bomb outside its territory.
Monitoring groups estimate that the nuclear test conducted in North Korea earlier this month had a yield of 250 kilotons, which is 16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
Hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs, are thermonuclear weapons far more powerful than ordinary fission-based atomic bombs, and use a nuclear blast to generate the intense temperatures required for fusion to take place.