The United States will face a “very difficult situation” because President Joe Biden called North Korea a serious threat, a senior foreign ministry official in the secret communist state said on Sunday.
Biden made a “big blunder” in his first address to Congress last week when he criticized North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs, Kwon Jong Gun said in a statement released by the state-run KCNA news agency.
Calling them “serious threats to US and world security,” Biden said he would work with US allies to address those threats through “diplomacy”
But Kuon said his speech “clearly reflects his intention to continue to pursue a hostile policy toward the DPRK, as the United States has done for more than half a century.” The DPRK means the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of the North.
Kuon added that his country would be forced to insist on “appropriate measures” and that in time the United States would find itself in a “very difficult situation”, without explaining what that situation might be.
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NBC News asked the State Department for comment, but the White House said Friday that the Biden administration has completed a “rigorous” review of its policy in North Korea, agreeing to a new approach to putting pressure on the state to denuclearize .
Instead of looking for a “big deal”, White House spokesman Jen Psaki said the new policy would be “a calibrated, practical approach that is open and explores diplomacy with the DPRK.”
Former President Donald Trump became the first sedentary US president to set foot on North Korean soil in 2019. But despite several high-ranking meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, relations deteriorated and talks on denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula ended without a deal.
Days before Trump left office in January, Kim called America his country’s “enemy of the state,” which must be brought to its knees.
In a further show of force, the North fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan last month. Satellite images also showed renewed activity at a nuclear facility in North Korea.
The fact that North Korea’s latest response does not come from the top of the regime, combined with a lack of detail on its next steps, is a way for the North to leave the door open for both diplomacy and escalation, Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a professor of international relations at North Korea. King’s College London, told NBC News.
“I think North Korea will just wait to get more details about the review of the Biden administration in North Korea and then take it from there,” he said.
Mason Richie, a professor at Hankuk University for Foreign Studies in the South Korean capital, Seoul, agreed that the reaction was typical of the regime, but added that the North was “announcing that it would make a very difficult deal.”
In addition to growing tensions, Kim’s powerful sister, Kim Yo-Yong, criticized South Korea on Sunday for leaflets against Pyongyang that were transferred across the border by a group of North Korean deserters in the South. She called it an “unbearable provocation.”
“Dissatisfaction cannot be hidden from such heinous actions,” Kim, a senior official in her brother’s government, said in a statement from KCNA. She added that the North would explore revenge, as it could remain an “observer” for longer.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this story.
Stella Kim contributed.