+ A

Pyongyang lashes out, State Dept. issues caution

Oct 12,2019
The U.S. State Department called on North Korea to refrain from testing weapons and abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions in response to Pyongyang’s latest threat that it was running out of patience.

“As we have said before, we call on the DPRK to refrain from provocations, abide by their obligations under UN Security Council resolutions and remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations to do their part to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and achieve denuclearization,” the State Department was quoted as saying in a Radio Free Asia report published Thursday.

DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Earlier that day, a spokesperson for the North’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued through Pyongyang’s state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that the regime is currently exercising “restraint” in testing weapons - though there is “no guarantee” that restraint would last long.

The regime’s characteristic saber rattling came less than a week after low-level denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang fell apart in Sweden, with the North’s top nuclear interlocutor telling reporters that the talks were “sickening” as he left the European country.

“The United States conducted the recent intercontinental ballistic missile test-fire in a bid to pressure the DPRK,” an English version of the KCNA report read, referring to the U.S. Air Force’s test of an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile in California on Oct. 2.

“The DPRK can give tit for tat, but we are now exercising a restraint under the judgment that a counteraction is not necessary yet and it is still premature.

“But there is a limit to our patience,” the regime cautioned, “and there is no guarantee that all our patience would continue indefinitely.”

The unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson also slammed six European Union countries of the UN Security Council for releasing a statement criticizing the North’s submarine-launched ballistic missile test last week, saying they were instigated by the United States.

As Pyongyang continues to pressure Washington to come to discussions with “a new calculus” that includes a sanctions relief, former U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster stressed Thursday in Washington that the United States would be insane if it did.

McMaster, who worked for U.S. President Donald Trump from February 2017 to April 2018, said at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that Washington should not repeat the mistakes of past administrations by offering premature sanctions relief.

“That’s the definition of insanity if we do that again,” he said.

When the North carries out its “provocation cycle,” that’s when the United States should be sure it doesn’t lift sanctions without any meaningful progress in denuclearization, he said.

“Long drawn-out negotiations,” McMaster said, “during which the North Koreans try to extort more money and payoffs from us. And then ultimately what do you get? You get a weak agreement that locks in the status quo as the new normal.”

And, McMaster highlighted, “North Korea breaks that agreement right away.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]