Bolton's denuclearisation call is nonsense: North Korea

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with (from left) National Security Adviser John Bolton, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in Hanoi on Feb 28.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with (from left) National Security Adviser John Bolton, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in Hanoi on Feb 28.PHOTO: REUTERS

US security adviser appears 'dim-sighted', says Pyongyang's Vice-Foreign Minister

SEOUL • North Korea has criticised US National Security Adviser John Bolton's "nonsense" call for Pyongyang to show that it is serious about giving up its nuclear weapons, the second time it has criticised a leading US official in less than a week.

United States President Donald Trump has said he is open to a third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but Mr Bolton told Bloomberg News last Wednesday there first needed to be "a real indication from North Korea that they've made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons".

"Bolton, National Security Adviser of the White House, in an interview with Bloomberg, showed above himself by saying such a nonsense," North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters when asked about his recent comments, the Korean Central News Agency said yesterday.

"Bolton's remarks make me wonder whether they sprang out of incomprehension of the intentions of the top leaders of the DPRK and the US or whether he was just trying to talk with a certain sense of humour for his part, with its own deviation," she said, referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

"All things considered, his word has no charm in it and he looks dim-sighted to me."

The North Korean vice-minister also warned that there would be no good if the US continued "to throw away such remarks devoid of discretion and reason".

INCOMPREHENSION?

Bolton's remarks make me wonder whether they sprang out of incomprehension of the intentions of the top leaders of the DPRK and the US or whether he was just trying to talk with a certain sense of humour for his part, with its own deviation.

NORTH KOREAN VICE-FOREIGN MINISTER CHOE SON HUI

The US and South Korea are seeking to resume denuclearisation talks, which stalled after a summit in Vietnam between Mr Trump and Mr Kim ended in failure in February.

Mr Trump has said smaller agreements may be reached but that he still wants a "big deal" to rid North Korea of its nuclear arms capabilities.

North Korean state media last Thursday announced the test of what it called a "new-type tactical guided weapon", hours before a separate state media report was issued in which a foreign ministry official demanded US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from direct nuclear talks for what the official called his "reckless remarks".

Those moves are seen as a way for North Korea to gain leverage after the February Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi broke down without a deal.

North Korea wants an easing of sanctions choking its moribund economy in return for disarmament steps, but Mr Trump said Pyongyang was offering far too little to warrant ending the economic squeeze.

A fresh round of UN Security Council sanctions was imposed as punishment after North Korea tested nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2016 and 2017. Mr Kim pledged to halt the testing after that, which helped pave the way for diplomacy and the summits with Mr Trump.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, THE WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 21, 2019, with the headline 'Bolton's denuclearisation call is nonsense: N. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe