SEOUL, South Korea--North Korea lashed out at the United States and its allies in South Korea on Sunday in a series of statements saying recent comments from Washington are proof of a hostile policy that requires a corresponding response from Pyongyang.
The statements, carried on state news agency KCNA, come after the White House on Friday said U.S. officials had completed a months-long review of North Korean policy, and underscore the challenges U.S. President Joe Biden faces as he seeks to distinguish his approach from the failures of his predecessors.
"Our policy towards North Korea is not aimed at hostility. It's aimed at solutions," Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, said in an interview with ABC's "This Week" program on Sunday.
In one statement, a Foreign Ministry spokesman accused Washington of insulting the dignity of the country's supreme leadership by criticizing North Korea's human rights situation. This criticism is a provocation that shows the United States is "girding itself up for an all-out showdown" with North Korea, and will be answered accordingly, the unnamed spokesman said.
In a separate statement, Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of U.S. Affairs, cited Biden's speech to Congress on Wednesday in which the president said nuclear programmes in North Korea and Iran pose threats that would be addressed through "diplomacy and stern deterrence."
Kwon said it is illogical and an encroachment upon North Korea's right to self-defence for the United States to call its defensive deterrence a threat. "His statement clearly reflects his intent to keep enforcing the hostile policy toward the DPRK as it had been done by the U.S. for over half a century," he said, using the initials for North Korea's official name.
Kwon said U.S. talk of diplomacy is aimed at covering up its hostile acts, and its deterrence is a means for posing nuclear threats to North Korea. Now that Biden's policy has become clear, North Korea "will be compelled to press for corresponding measures, and with time the U.S. will find itself in a very grave situation," he added.
Talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear weapons programme have been stalled since a series of summits between Biden's predecessor Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to yield a deal. Biden's policy attempts to strike a middle ground between Trump's efforts and those of former President Barack Obama, who refused serious diplomatic engagement with North Korea absent any steps by Pyongyang to reduce tensions.
The U.S. goal remains the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and Washington is willing to engage in diplomacy and work on practical measures toward that goal, Sullivan said.