A top North Korean diplomat issued a scathing condemnation of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday for refusing to abandon President Donald Trump’s policy of maintaining sanctions on the rogue nation until it fully dismantles its illegal nuclear weapons program.
Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the Department of American Affairs at the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that talks with the United States would be impossible unless Trump replaced Pompeo with someone who is “more careful and mature.”
The demand follows the test of an unspecified “tactical guided weapon” in the communist country on Wednesday and a belligerent speech by dictator Kim Jong-un asserting that “one thousand talks” with American officials could not deter his regime from continuing its illegal nuclear weapons program while demanding relief from sanctions designed to end that program.
Kim had said prior to those comments this week that he was open to more summits with President Trump. In response, Pompeo told reporters on Monday that he “appreciated” Kim’s statement.
“This is the outcome we’re looking for: Chairman Kim made a promise in June of last year in Singapore. He made a commitment to denuclearize,” Pompeo said. “He’s made that same commitment to me now a handful of times in person. We collectively need to see that outcome move forward.”
Pompeo added that Kim claimed he wanted to fully dismantle the nuclear program by the end of the year; he, on the other hand, would “love to see that done sooner.”
These remarks apparently outraged Pyongyang, which has now openly called for Pompeo’s ouster.
“Just at this time, only Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of the State, is talking nonsense that its meaning is to finish the working level negotiation between the DPRK [North Korea] and the U.S. by the end of the year, which subjects him to public ridicule,” Kwon said in a statement published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“We cannot be aware of Pompeo’s ulterior motive behind his self-indulgence in reckless remarks; whether he is indeed unable to understand words properly or just pretending on purpose,” Kwon continued. “However, it is a very dangerous situation if he really did not grasp the meaning.”
The diplomat went on to blame Pompeo personally for President Trump’s walking out of February’s summit with Kim in Hanoi, which resulted in no agreement because, according to Trump, Kim insisted on sanctions being lifted without Pyongyang’s taking any new action on its nuclear program.
“Hanoi summit gives us a lesson that whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, the talks go wrong without any results even from the point close to success,” Kwon said. “I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled.”
He went on to accuse the secretary of state of “fabricating stories” as a “publicity stunt,” without elaborating on what those stories are.
“It is fortunate that the personal relationship between our Chairman of the State Affairs Commission and President Trump is on good terms as usual and our Chairman is pleased to get on well with President Trump,” he said.
Pompeo made his first overnight trip to North Korea in July to discuss implementing the vague proposals in the Singapore Declaration, which both Kim and Trump signed on the occasion of their first summit. That visit followed Pompeo’s hosting a lavish dinner in New York for North Korea’s senior diplomats; the meal featured upscale versions of classic American dishes.
The broadside against Pompeo appears to be a direct response to February’s failed summit, however, which Kim also addressed in an angry, extensive speech to leaders of the communist Korean Worker’s Party (WPK).
“The second DPRK-US summit talks held in Hanoi last February raised strong questions about whether the steps we took under our strategic, courageous decision were right,” the dictator said this week.
“The United States came to the negotiating table after thinking only about completely unrealizable methods,” he claimed. “By that sort of thinking, the United States will not be able to move us one iota nor get what it wants at all, even if it sits with us a hundred times, a thousand times.”
Kim noted, as Kwon did, that he did not take issue with Trump personally, laying the groundwork for his diplomat to call for Pompeo’s firing.
“Personal relations between he and I are not hostile like the relationship between the two countries, and we still maintain good relations, and if we want, we can send and receive letters asking for each other’s regards any time,” Kim said.
The harsh language Kim used in that speech preceded the resumption of military tests meant to intimidate the United States and its allies. On Wednesday, the state newspaper Rodong Sinmun announced that Kim had led the testing of a new “tactical guided weapon,” the nature of which remains unknown.
“The design indexes of the tactical guided weapon whose advantages are appreciated for the peculiar mode of guiding flight and the load of a powerful warhead were perfectly verified at the test-fire conducted in various modes of firing at different targets,” the newspaper reported. It added that Kim said it was “a very good thing that the field of national defence science has waged a dynamic struggle for attaining core research goals.”