Did the United States' constant pressure and hardline stance on North Korea go too far?
The North's state-run Korea Central News Agency published a statement on Wednesday by the regime's first vice foreign minister, Kim Kye-gwan, rebuking the U.S. for what he called its provocative assertions, especially those of White House National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Kim said that despite his hopes for the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit, he was disappointed by Washington's provoking of the North with reckless, unbridled remarks.
He listed assertions made by high-level U.S. officials, including Bolton, like the so-called "Libya model" of nuclear abandonment. Also phrases like "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" and "denuclearization before rewards."
Kim said it's absurd to compare North Korea to Libya, which was only in the early stages of developing nuclear weapons.
Kim pointed the finger squarely at Bolton, saying North Korea cannot hide its feelings of revulsion at the hardliner.
And he warned that if the Trump administration forgets the setbacks America has suffered in the past by following people like Bolton, prospects for the upcoming summit and future relations are crystal clear.
Kim also slammed President Trump. He said Washington misread Pyongyang's broad-minded initiatives as signs of weakness and accused the U.S. of promoting the North's decisions as the result of sanctions and pressure.
The vice minister said if Trump attends the summit with sincerity to improve ties, then North will give a deserved response, but if the U.S. only tries to corner the North and force Pyongyang to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons, then North Korea will no longer be interested and would have no choice but reconsider holding the talks altogether.
There are concerns now that the historic summit between the North and the U.S. could be called off, but a North Korea expert said that's not what the regime wants.
"If Pyongyang really wanted to pull out of the talks, it would've put out this statement in the name of the regime itself. But the statement was written in the first person by a minister not at the forefront of settling things with the U.S."
The intention of the statement, says the expert -- to warn Bolton and Trump.
"Bolton has been talking far too ambitiously about this summit. He's proposed more agenda items like human rights, other weapons of mass destruction and the abductee issues. And he's also been talking about the method of denuclearization and the Libya model. Talking in this way makes it appear that North Korea has been defeated by the U.S. Also, with the summit ahead, these kinds of statements can be seen as inappropriate."
The expert added that Trump should get Bolton to tone it down, and work so that the North's denuclearization is accompanied by the end of what Kim Kye-kwan, in his statement, called Washington's "hostile policies."
Lee Ji-won, Airang News.