Five points of tensions between North Korea and the U.S. as shared by Pyongyang’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs, in an AP interview on Thursday:
- Kim Jong Un on a list of sanctioned individuals – Han Song Ryol, director-general of the U.S. affairs department at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, emphasized the authoritarian country’s anger over Washington’s July 6 announcement putting leader Kim Jong Un on a list of sanctioned individuals in connection with alleged human rights abuses documented by the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Pyongyang denies the allegations. “The United States has crossed the red line in our showdown,” he said. “We regard this thrice-cursed crime as a declaration of war.”
- War Games – Han warned against planned U.S.-South Korean war games next month. “By doing these kinds of vicious and hostile acts toward the DPRK, the U.S. has already declared war against the DPRK. So it is our self-defensive right and justifiable action to respond in a very hard way,” he said.
- US Diplomat’s flight – Han castigated Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, for a July 12 flight on a U.S. Air Force F-16 based in South Korea. He called it an action “unfit for a diplomat.”
- Differences in stance on nuclear weapons – North Korea has been hit with several rounds of international sanctions over its continued development of nuclear weapons and missiles, but Han contended the U.S. is to blame. “It is the United States that first developed nuclear weapons, who first deployed them and who first used them against humankind,” he said.
- North Korea won’t give up nukes – As North Korea has many times before, Han dismissed calls for Pyongyang to defuse tensions by agreeing to abandon its nuclear program. “We … are very proud of the fact, that we have very strong nuclear deterrent forces not only to cope with the United States’ nuclear blackmail but also to neutralize the nuclear blackmail of the United States,” Han said.