SEOUL – North Korea said on Sunday that President Biden made “a big mistake” in calling its nuclear arsenal a threat last week and warned that the United States would face “a very serious situation” if it continued what they are “hostile policies” towards Pyongyang.
The statement, attributed to a senior official, was one of three statements the North released on Sunday against the United States and its ally South Korea. They contained warnings that the North might respond to recent statements by the Biden government about the country with unspecified “appropriate action”.
Mr Biden made brief reference to North Korea in his speech to a joint congressional session on Wednesday, saying that its nuclear program and that of Iran pose “serious threats to American and world security”. He said the United States and its allies would deal with them “through diplomacy and rigorous deterrence”.
“It is certain that the US chief made a big mistake,” said Kwon Jong-gun, a senior North Korean State Department official, in a statement released by the North state news media. He said Mr. Biden’s remark “clearly reflects his intention to continue to enforce hostile policies towards North Korea”.
“We will be forced to press for appropriate action and in time the US will find itself in a very serious situation,” he said.
North Korea has long said it will not give up its nuclear arsenal until the United States changes its “hostile” policies. That persistence has doubled since face-to-face talks between its leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald J. Trump ended in 2019 without an agreement to dismantle the north’s nuclear facilities or ease US sanctions North was scored.
On March 25, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles, the first such test in a year. Analysts have since warned that the North might conduct further tests or other provocations to increase its leverage in talks with the Biden administration.
The government, which has conducted a policy review of North Korea, recently announced that it is pursuing a strategy between Mr Trump’s direct contact with Mr Kim, seeking a single comprehensive deal, and “strategic patience” would. Approach of former President Barack Obama, who wanted to force the North to negotiate through sanctions and other forms of pressure. Both approaches have failed, and North Korea has continued to expand its arsenal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the government “will not focus on big business or rely on strategic patience.” She said it will “seek a calibrated, practical approach that is open and will explore diplomacy with North Korea” and seek “practical advances that will increase the security of the United States and its allies”.
In his statement on Sunday, Mr. Kwon said the government’s diplomatic speech was “a false shield to cover up its hostile actions”.
In a separate statement on Sunday, also released through the state news media, the North Foreign Ministry accused the government of using criticism of the North’s human rights record as a “political weapon to overthrow our welfare system”.
“We will be forced to take appropriate action,” an unidentified ministry spokesman was quoted as saying. “We have already made it clear that we will oppose those who interfere with the dignity of our top leadership, which is more valuable than our lives.”
It was in response to a statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price who described North Korea as “one of the most repressive and totalitarian states in the world”. Mr. Price quoted “shooting orders on the North Korean-Chinese border” that American officials said the north had issued since the advent of Covid-19.
Also on Sunday, Kim’s sister Kim Yo-jong condemned South Korea for failing to prevent a group of activists from using balloons to send propaganda leaflets across the border to the north.
Such launches, a tactic often used by defectors from North Korea fighting the Kim regime, were banned by South Korea in March because they unnecessarily provoked Pyongyang and endangered South Koreans living near the border. The North cited the propaganda launch last year when it blew up an office building on its floor where officials from both Koreas had worked together.
Park Sang-hak, who heads a defector group in Seoul, said Friday that his organization defied the launch ban earlier this week and released 10 large balloons with half a million leaflets. He accused the South Korean government of “gagging” the defectors and of denying North Koreans the right to know how their leaders were seen by the outside world.
Ms. Kim, who acts as her brother’s spokesperson on inter-Korean issues, called the defectors “human waste” in her statement on Sunday, described the launch as a “serious provocation” and warned that the North would “consider appropriate measures”.