President Joe Biden “made a major blunder” in his recent speech by calling North Korea a security threat and exposing his intent to maintain a hostile policy toward it, North Korea cautioned on Sunday, putting the US in a “very grave situation.”
In his first address to Congress last week, Biden described North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs as “significant threats” to American and global security, promising to work with allies to resolve the issues through diplomacy and stern deterrence.
In a statement, Kwon Jong Gun, a senior North Korean Foreign Ministry official, said, “His statement clearly reflects his purpose to continue implementing the hostile policy against the DPRK as the US has done for over half a century.”
The North’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK.
“In light of today’s perspective, it is clear that the US president made a major blunder,” Kwon said.
“Now that the gist of the US’s new DPRK strategy is clear, we will be forced to push for corresponding steps, and the US will find itself in a very precarious position over time.”
Kwon didn’t say what measures North Korea would take, but his comment could be interpreted as an attempt to put pressure on the Biden administration as it formulates its North Korea strategy. According to the White House, administration officials completed a summary of US strategy toward North Korea on Friday, and Biden expects to depart from the policies of his two most recent predecessors in his efforts to halt North Korea’s nuclear program.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, did not go into depth about the review’s conclusions, but she did say that the administration would try to find a middle ground between Donald Trump’s “grand bargain” and Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” approaches.
Psaki’s remarks were not included in Kwon’s argument.
Following a series of high-profile nuclear and missile tests in 2016-17, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened a summit with Trump to discuss the future of his rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal.
However, the diplomacy has been stalled for nearly two years due to disagreements about the amount of sanctions relief North Korea should receive in exchange for limited denuclearization measures.
In January, Kim threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and develop more high-tech missiles aimed at the US mainland, claiming that the future of bilateral relations would be determined by whether the US abandoned its hostile policy.
For the first time in a year, he conducted short-range ballistic missile tests in March, though he still retains a ban on larger nuclear launches.
“The starting point of negotiations will be a freeze in North Korean testing and construction of nuclear capabilities and delivery systems if Pyongyang agrees to working-level talks,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
“On the other hand, if Kim chooses provocative tests over diplomacy, Washington will most likely increase sanctions compliance and military drills with allies.”
An unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman promised a heavy, separate response to a recent State Department statement calling for “accountability for the Kim regime” over its “egregious human rights situation.”
He described the statement as a “full-fledged showdown with us.”
Kim Yo Jong, Kim’s strong sister, also blasted South Korea for allowing anti-Pyongyang leaflets to cross the border by a group of North Korean defectors in the South.
Park Sang-hak, the group’s chief, said Friday that he sent 500,000 leaflets by balloon last week, in violation of a recent, controversial South Korean law that makes such behavior illegal.
In a quote, Kim Yo Jong said, “We consider the manoeuvres conducted by the human waste in the South as a significant provocation against our state and will look into corresponding action.”
The South Korean government, she said, was “winking at” the leaflets.
Later Sunday, Seoul’s Unification Ministry replied, saying it opposes any action that raises tensions on the Korean Peninsula and that it will work to improve ties with North Korea.
According to Easley, the North Korean statements by Kwon and Kim Yo Jong indicate that “Pyongyang is attempting to push a wedge between South Korea and the United States” ahead of Biden’s meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on May 21.