Foreign

North Korea dismisses nuclear talks with US, says Biden’s approach ‘intolerable’

US offer of diplomacy branded ‘spurious’ after White House says denuclearisation remains its goal

North Korea has accused the US of pursuing a hostile policy against it and dismissed the idea of talks with Washington, branding US diplomacy “spurious” a day after the Biden administration said it was open to diplomatic negotiations on denuclearisation, state media reported.

Diplomacy was a “spurious signboard” for the US to “cover up its hostile acts,” the North Korean foreign ministry said in a series of statements run by the KCNA news agency on Sunday.

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Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the department of US affairs of the foreign ministry, cited Joe Biden’s first policy speech to Congress on Wednesday, where the new president said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed threats that would be addressed through “diplomacy and stern deterrence”.

Biden’s speech was “intolerable” and “a big blunder,” Kwon said.

“His statement clearly reflects his intent to keep enforcing the hostile policy toward the DPRK as it had been done by the US for over half a century,” he said, using the initials for North Korea’s official name.

Now that Biden’s policy has become clear, North Korea “will be compelled to press for corresponding measures, and with time the US will find itself in a very grave situation,” he concluded.

In a separate statement, a foreign ministry spokesman accused Washington of insulting the dignity of the country’s supreme leadership by criticising North Korea’s human rights situation.

The human rights criticism is a provocation that shows the US is “girding itself up for an all-out showdown” with North Korea, and will be answered accordingly, the unnamed spokesman said. “We have warned the US sufficiently enough to understand that it will get hurt if it provokes us.”

The White House said Friday that its goal remains “the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

US policy will see “a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy” with North Korea, Biden’s press secretary Jen Pskai told reporters.

Psaki gave little indication of what kind of diplomatic initiative this could entail, but suggested that Biden had learned from the experience of previous administrations, who have struggled for decades to deal with the dictatorship in North Korea or, in recent years, its growing nuclear arsenal.

She said Washington would not “focus on achieving a grand bargain,” apparently referring to the kind of dramatic over-arching deal that former president Donald Trump initially suggested was possible when he met with North Korea’s leader.

The White House and state department did not immediately comment on the latest North Korean statements.

In a third statement, Kim Yo-jong, a senior official in the government and sister of leader Kim Jong-un, sharply criticized South Korea for failing to stop defector activists from launching anti-North Korea leaflets.

An activist group in South Korea said on Friday it had released balloons into North Korea carrying dollar bills and leaflets denouncing the government in Pyongyang, defying a recently imposed law banning such releases after complaints by the North.

“We regard the maneuvers committed by the human wastes in the south as a serious provocation against our state and will look into corresponding action,” Kim Yo Jong said.

Last year, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea, after Kim Yo-jong led a campaign of criticism over the leaflet launches.

  • Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report.
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