Reports: North Korea may test hydrogen bomb in Pacific

A photo made available by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA),  shows North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un supervising the second test-fire of ICBM Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location in North Korea, July 28, 2017. 
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North Korea threatened early Friday to detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean in what the nation called the "highest level of hardline countermeasure in history." The threat followed news that President Trump's administration would impose further sanctions on Pyongyang for its missile and nuclear weapons program.

The warning was delivered by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in New York, according to comments published by South Korea's Yonhap news agency. Ri did not elaborate on when the detonation might take place and added that any final decision on the matter would be taken by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Yonhap news agency reported that Ri told reporters that a response "could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific."

The escalation in warring rhetoric came after Kim responded to Trump's "rocket man" speech at the U.N. General Assembly this week by branding him a "mentally deranged dotard" — an insult that has left many people reaching for their dictionaries to determine which leaders' comments were more offensive or inflammatory. In his speech to the U.N., Trump vowed to "totally destroy" North Korea if provoked. 

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Kim said that Trump's remarks "convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last." He described the president as "a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire."

The comments were released on official state media. They mark a rare direct intervention by the North Korea leader, who usually lets his deputies issue statements.

Trump said Thursday he will ramp up economic pressure on North Korea by signing an executive order that cracks down on anyone who does business with the hermit nation. Even amid such sanctions and threats, Trump and his aides say they hope to resolve the stand-off over nuclear weapons without resorting to military action.

In recent months, North Korea has launched a pair of intercontinental missiles believed capable of striking the continental U.S. and another pair that soared over Japanese territory. Earlier this month, the North conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date, drawing stiffer U.N. sanctions. The war of words between the adversaries comes as the North moves closer to perfecting a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike America.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.