A WAR with North Korea would bring about the “end of humanity,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned, in the strongest comments yet against military action following US President Donald Trump’s departure from the region.
In his closing remarks at the Asean summit on Tuesday in Manila, Duterte predicted a war on the Korean peninsula would result in “nuclear holocaust.” He also accused North Korean leader Kim Jong Un of “toying with these nuclear bombs,” according to Al Jazeera.
”We cannot start a war with the North Korean crisis looming ahead. There are dark clouds there. We better pray,” Duterte told the audience.
“If all of those missiles and the (intercontinental ballistic missile) ICBM’s would explode, that would mean the end of humanity… The destruction, it would be the end of everything,” he warned.
The nuclear bomb that Pyongyang is reported to have developed is estimated to be around 200-300 times more powerful than those dropped by the US on Japan during World War II.
Duterte’s comments come on the heels of a 12-day Asia Pacific tour by Trump that was dominated by discussions on how to kerb the North’s nuclear weapons programme.
“A rogue regime that threatens the world with nuclear devastation has no place in our community of sovereign nations,” Trump said in departing remarks on Tuesday. In the past, he has threatened to “totally destroy” the country if threatens the US or its allies.
During the president’s visit, South Korean warships and three American aircraft carrier strike groups converged off the Korean Peninsula for scheduled war exercises.
North Korea state media called the military show of force “extremely risky,” seeing the manoeuvre as a direct threat to the communist nation.
“The Korean peninsula and the Asia-Pacific are teetering on the brink of nuclear war due to war maniac Trump with whom words of reason cut no ice,” the weekly Pyongyang Times said in a Tuesday commentary headlined “Nuclear clouds gather over Asia-Pacific.”
Diplomacy over action remained the uniform message from other Asia Pacific leaders over the almost two-week trip. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in suggested discussions among allies on a quid pro quo for North Korea if it comes to the negotiating table and freezes its nuclear programme.
“I believe it will not be easy realistically to move on to complete dismantlement of North Korean nukes in the near future, considering recent advances in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes,” Moon said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“That means it will likely be North Korea first freezing its nuclear programme and then moving onto complete dismantlement. And if that happens, I believe we and the international community may discuss what we can do in return,” the Yonhap news agency quoted Moon as saying.