North Korean leader Kim Jong Un condemned a US offer of dialogue as a “petty trick”, state media reported Thursday, and accused the Joe Biden administration of continuing a hostile policy against his nuclear-armed country.
Talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been effectively at a standstill since the collapse of a 2019 Hanoi summit between Kim and then-president Donald Trump over sanctions relief and what North Korea would be willing to give up in return.
Under Biden, the United States has repeatedly offered to meet North Korean representatives anywhere, at any time, without preconditions, while saying it will seek denuclearisation.
But Kim condemned the declarations as “no more than a petty trick for deceiving the international community and hiding its hostile acts”, the official KCNA news agency reported.
The new administration was pursuing “military threats” and a “hostile policy” unchanged from the past, “but employs more cunning ways and methods in doing so”, he said in a lengthy address to the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament.
Pyongyang has been largely biding its time in recent months as it assessed the Biden government and focused on domestic issues.
It has been behind a rigid self-imposed blockade since early last year to protect itself from the coronavirus pandemic, with the economy suffering as a result and trade with key partner China dwindling to a trickle.
But Kim’s speech was the latest in a series of actions with international ramifications this month.
This week, North Korea tested what it said was a hypersonic gliding missile, and earlier this month announced it had successfully fired a long-range cruise missile, after holding a scaled-down military parade.
Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes are banned under UN Security Council resolutions, and it is subject to multiple international sanctions as a result.
The United States condemned this week’s launch, but in response to Kim’s comments said it “harbours no hostile intent toward the DPRK” — the acronym for the North’s official name.
“We are prepared to meet with the DPRK without preconditions,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement, reiterating the offer.
“We hope the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach.”
The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Thursday on North Korea, at the request of the United States, France and the United Kingdom, diplomatic sources told AFP Wednesday.
North Korea has not shown any willingness to give up its arsenal, which it says it needs to defend itself against a US invasion.
Kim’s speech indicated Pyongyang would keep improving its capabilities unless Washington changed course, said Hong Min, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.
“It has come to a judgement that it has no choice but to get ready for a long-haul approach with the US, meaning it will continue developing strategic weapons while keeping a stable peace mode with the South.”