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US stands ready to use devastating force against North Korea, says Trump

By Staff Reporter

The US is "totally prepared" to use a military option to deal with the threat from North Korea, President Donald Trump has said.

"It will be devastating," he warned.

A military option is not the preferred one, but Mr Trump added: "If we have to take it, we will."

The President was responding to comments from North Korea's foreign minister, who on Monday said that Mr Trump's recent threatening statements toward the North were a declaration of war and it would have the right to shoot down US planes.

Mr Trump accused North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of behaving "very badly".

He blamed previous US Presidents for failing to deal with the North Korean threat, declaring: "I will fix this mess."

At a White House news conference Mr Trump also called on all nations "to join forces to isolate the North Korean menace".

He said they must act now to achieve the denuclearisation of North Korea.

The Trump administration has announced new sanctions which punish eight North Korean banks and 26 bank workers living abroad.

The sanctions rely on an executive order Mr Trump (right) signed last week to target North Korea's access to the international banking system.

They come as the United Nations has also recently passed its toughest sanctions package targeting North Korea.

The eight banks are all in North Korea. The Treasury Department said the 26 individuals are North Korean nationals employed by those banks who work in Russia, China, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US is targeting those "across the globe" who facilitate financial transactions for North Korea. He said it is part of the effort to isolate North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

At the weekend, US bombers and fighter escorts flew to the farthest point north of the border between North and South Korea by any American aircraft this century.

The mission in international airspace was said to show how seriously President Trump takes North Korea's "reckless behaviour".

Kim Jong-un has said Mr Trump would "pay dearly" for threatening to "totally destroy" North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself or its allies against a North Korean attack.

Kim's foreign minister told reporters that the North's response to Mr Trump "could be the most powerful detonation of a H-bomb in the Pacific".

North Korea has said it intends to build a missile capable of striking all parts of the United States with a nuclear bomb. Mr Trump has said he will not allow it, although the US so far has not used military force.

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