SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea on Sunday warned the United States of a “very grave situation” as President Joe Biden’s recent speech “made a huge mistake” in describing the country as a security threat and expressing his intention to maintain hostility Politics against it.
Last week, in his first address to Congress, Biden described the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran as a “serious threat” to the security of America and the world and said he would work with allies to address these issues through diplomacy and strong deterrence.
“His statement clearly reflects his intention to continue to enforce hostile policies towards the DPRK, as practiced by the US for over half a century,” Kwon Jong Gun, a senior official with the North Korean State Department, said in a statement. The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.
“It is certain that the US chief made a big mistake, given today’s perspective,” said Kwon. “Now that the rationale behind the DPRK’s new US policy has become clear, we will be forced to press for appropriate action, and in time the US will find itself in a very serious situation.”
Kwon did not specify what steps North Korea would take, and his statement could be seen as an attempt to put pressure on the Biden government as it shapes its North Korea policy.
The White House said Friday that government officials had completed a review of U.S. policy towards North Korea and that Biden plans to deviate from the approaches of his two most recent predecessors as he tries to halt North Korea’s nuclear program. Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not go into detail on the results of the review, but suggested that the government would strike a balance between Donald Trump’s “grand bargain” and Barack Obama’s “strategic patience”.
Kwon’s statement did not mention Psaki’s comments.
After a series of high-profile nuclear and missile tests in 2016-17, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un launched a summit diplomacy with Trump on the future of his growing nuclear arsenal. This diplomacy, however, has stalled for about two years due to differences in the level of sanction relief North Korea might gain in return for limited denuclearization moves.
In January, Kim threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and build more high-tech weapons against the US mainland. The fate of bilateral relations would depend on whether it abandons its hostile policies. In March, he conducted short-range ballistic missile tests for the first time in a year, although he still maintains a moratorium on major weapon launches.
“If Pyongyang agrees to working-level talks, the starting point of the negotiations would be a freeze on North Korean tests and the development of nuclear capabilities and delivery systems,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “On the other hand, if Kim eschews diplomacy and opts for provocative testing, Washington will likely expand sanctions enforcement and military exercises with allies.”
Also on Sunday, an unidentified North Korean State Department spokesman vowed a strong, separate response to a recent statement by the US State Department that it would press to promote “accountability to the Kim regime” for its “immense human rights situation.” . He called the declaration a preparation for the “showdown with us”.
Kim’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, also hit South Korea for leaflets targeting Pyongyang, which swam across the border from a group of North Korean defectors in the south. The group’s chairman, Park Sang-hak, said Friday he ballooned 500,000 leaflets last week, despite a new, controversial South Korean law criminalizing such actions.
“We regard the human waste maneuvers in the south as a serious provocation against our state and will examine appropriate measures,” said Kim Yo Jong in a statement.
She accused the South Korean government of “winking” at the leaflets. The Seoul Unification Ministry responded later Sunday that it was opposed to any act that creates tension in the Korean peninsula and that it would seek better relations with North Korea.
Easley said North Korean statements by Kwon and Kim Yo Jong show that “Pyongyang is trying to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States” ahead of the May 21 summit between Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.