SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea slammed European Union human rights sanctions imposed against its senior officials this week as a "despicable political provocation" and the result of "a psychotic way of thinking".
The 27-member EU Council said Monday (March 22) it will slap sanctions on a dozen individuals and four entities in six countries - including China, Russia and North Korea - for human rights violations.
The move prompted immediate retaliation by Beijing, triggering a furious diplomatic row between China - the North's key backer - and EU nations.
And a spokesperson for the North's foreign ministry denounced the new measures against Pyongyang officials a "sinister political tool" triggered by the EU's "inveterate repugnancy coupled with a psychotic way of thinking".
It was part of a hostile policy towards the North and "a despicable political provocation", the spokesperson said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency late Tuesday and headlined Futile Act Will Incur Only Disgrace and Shame.
Those targeted by the EU sanctions are North Korea's State Security Minister Jong Kyong Thaek, Public Security Minister Ri Yong Gil and the Central Public Prosecutor's Office.
They are responsible for "serious human rights violations", the EU's official journal said, ranging from torture and arbitrary executions to widespread forced labour and sexual violence against women.
The nuclear-armed North is accused by the UN of "systematic, widespread and gross" human rights violations that range from torture and extrajudicial killings to running prison camps.
Pyongyang maintains that it protects and promotes "genuine human rights" and calls accusations of rights abuses by the international community anti-regime propaganda.