North Korea: Next hydrogen bomb test will be over the Pacific

The latest threat from the Kim regime at the United Nations might wind up backfiring in more ways than one, even as the war of personal insults escalate between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong-ho threatened to respond to increased United Nations sanctions by conducting a hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean. The threat is aimed at the US and its allies, but they’re not the only entities in the Pacific:

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly that Pyongyang might consider testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after the United States widened economic sanctions against the hermit kingdom.

“I think that it could be an H-bomb test at an unprecedented level, perhaps over the Pacific,” Ri said, adding that “it is up to our leader, so I do not know well.”

Unprecedented, yes. Foolish? Very likely. China has made it clear that it sees the Pacific as its realm as well, and might consider this a message aimed at Beijing as well. The relationship between China and North Korea has gotten rocky over the last couple of years as China has applied international sanctions with increasing bite. That kind of stunt might provide a catalyst for more direct action to get Pyongyang under control, especially since it’s likely to encourage Japan and South Korea to nuclearize their own forces — the very outcome that China dreads most.

At the same time, we have the sideshow of personal insults:

Returning insult with insult, Kim said Mr. Trump was “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.” He described the president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.” He characterized Mr. Trump’s speech to the world body on Tuesday as “mentally deranged behavior.”

The statement from Kim Jong Un was very unusual because it came from the North Korean leader himself, rather than state media as most statements do, CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports. Also, Tracy says, it was notable for being highly personal and critical of Mr. Trump.

Trump responded in kind this morning:

On the plus side, this exchange rescued an English insult from obscurity — or, if you prefer, its dotage. In the clip above, the CBS This Morning panel explains the word “dotard” after Kim’s use of it to describe Trump. At least we’re getting vocabulary lessons out of this. Let’s hope that’s what we get at most out of it, too.