North Korea questions US intent after fresh offer to meet

A test fire of a new type submarine-launched ballistic missile in an undisclosed location in North Korea on Oct 19, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS) - North Korea said on Thursday (Oct 21) the United States was overreacting to its recent missile test and questioned the sincerity of Washington's offers of talks, accusing it of operating "double standards" over weapons development.

Pyongyang has said in recent weeks that its weapons tests are aimed at boosting its defence capabilities just as other countries do, accusing the United States, South Korea and the United Nations of adopting a hostile policy and "double standards" towards it.

This week's test of a new ballistic missile from a submarine was North Korea's normal activity to carry out its mid- and long-term defence plan and was not aimed at the United States or any other country, an unnamed spokesperson at Pyongyang's foreign ministry said, according to the official KCNA news agency.

The spokesman said nonetheless Washington had taken "overly provocative moves" by calling for a gathering of the UN Security Council.

The Security Council met on Wednesday following a request from the United States.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Linda Thomas-Greenfield, urged Pyongyang to comply with UN sanctions banning nuclear and missile tests and accept offers of talks, reiterating that Washington has no hostile intent toward it.

"It is time to engage in sustained and substantive dialogue toward the goal of complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula," she told reporters, ahead of a UN Security Council meeting over the North's latest missile test.

"We have offered to meet the DPRK officials, without any preconditions, and we have made clear that we hold no hostile intent toward the DPRK," Ms Thomas-Greenfield said, using the initials of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, its official name.

Her comments echoed offers by the top US nuclear envoy Sung Kim to meet the North's officials without preconditions and repeated statements that Washington harboured no hostile intent towards Pyongyang.

Mr Kim is expected to visit Seoul on Friday for talks with his South Korean counterpart, Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday.

The North's foreign ministry spokesman said the United States' "double standards" over missile development cast doubt over its overtures.

"To criticise the DPRK for developing and test-firing the same weapon system as the one the US possesses or is developing is a clear expression of double standards," the spokesman said in a statement carried by KCNA.

"It only excites our suspicion about the 'authenticity' of its statement that it does not (want to) antagonise the DPRK."

Any wrong behaviour by the United States and the council could lead to "more serious consequences", the spokesman said, warning against "tampering with a dangerous time bomb".

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