TENSION RISING: North Korea’s Kim Jong un warns US will “face a very Grave situation”

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A photo montage of North Korean Kim Jong un celebrating a launch of his missiles; Courtesy Photo

North Korean leader Kim Jong un on Sunday warned that the United States will face a “crisis beyond control” and a “very grave situation” if it continued to insult the dignity of his country.

The warning followed US President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress last week when he said North Korea’s nuclear programme presents “a serious threat to America’s security and world security”. Biden also mentioned North Korea’s stinking human right’s record.

The North Korean regime lashed out at the US in a series of statements, saying Biden’s recent comments about nuclear weapons are proof of a hostile policy that requires a corresponding response from Pyongyang.

A spokesman for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un’s regime said Washington’s recent criticism of human rights in North Korea shows that the United States is “girding itself up for an all-out showdown”.

In one statement, a North Korean 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 theUnited 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 Department of US Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, cited Biden’s first policy speech to Congress, where the new president said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed 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 US for over half a century,” Kwon said, using the initials for North Korea’s official name.

He said US talk of diplomacy is aimed at covering up its hostile acts, and its deterrence is just 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 US will find itself in a very grave situation,” he concluded.

Talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear weapons program have been stalled since a series of summits between Biden’s predecessor, Republican Donald Trump and Kim failed to result in a deal.

The Biden policy attempts to strike a middle ground between Trump’s efforts, as well as those of Democrat Barack Obama, who refused serious diplomatic engagement with North Korea. The White House says it plans to take a “calibrated” approach to North Korea.

The White House and State Department however did not immediately comment on the latest statements from North Korea.

Markus Garlauskas, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council and former US national intelligence officer for North Korea, said Pyongyang’s rhetoric is a reminder that the problem is bigger than terminology or tactics.

“The differences between the Kim regime and the United States are much more fundamental,” he said.

Kim does not intend to give up nuclear weapons nor reform North Korea’s political system and it is hard to see how Washington could embrace a nuclear-armed North Korea that abuses human rights, Garlauskas said.

In a third statement on Sunday, 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 manoeuvres 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.

On May 21 Biden is due to have his first meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has pushed for more engagement with North Korea. The US is also expected to host Japan and South Korea’s national security advisers for a discussion soon.

Moon’s efforts were frustrated by the failure of denuclearisation talks under Trump, which left sanctions in place that block most economic engagement with the North.

Biden’s skepticism toward meeting personally with Kim, and his administration’s renewed focus on spotlighting North Korean human rights abuses present new hurdles for Moon as he seeks to make progress with Pyongyang in the last year of his presidency.

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