A senior North Korean official referred to Vice President Mike Pence as “stupid and ignorant” Thursday morning and U.S. policy “unlawful and outrageous” shortly before President Donald Trump announced that he would no longer meet with communist dictator Kim Jong-un on June 12.
“Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said in remarks published by North Korean state media Thursday. “In case the U.S. offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the DPRK-U.S. summit.”
Choe never got the opportunity to suggest reconsideration of the summit, as President Trump published a letter from the White House shortly after her remarks canceling the summit.
“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter addressed to Kim Jong-un. “Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the word, will not take place.”
“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me,” Trump concludes. “This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.”
White House cancels North Korea summit pic.twitter.com/mE8AaFo2mG
— Pamela Engel (@PamEngel12) May 24, 2018
Among the comments Choe made that appeared to prompt the summit cancelation were disparaging remarks against Vice President Pence, who recently reiterated on television that Washington would not ease sanctions or yield concessions to the rogue regime without seeing a drawdown of its illegal nuclear program. Pence also suggested that a denuclearization model similar to Libya’s was on the table – a model that Pyongyang has repeatedly asserted led to the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.
“U.S. Vice-President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, military option for North Korea never came off the table, the U.S. needs complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and so on,” Choe noted. “As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice-president.”
Choe claimed that Washington “asked for dialogue” – a claim both Washington and South Korea, which relayed Pyongyang’s message inviting Trump to meet, refute – and asserted, “We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us.”
Choe called Pence a “political dummy … to compare the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them.
“In order not to end up like Libya, the North ‘paid a heavy price to build up our powerful and reliable strength that can defend ourselves and safeguard peace and security in the Korean peninsula and the region,'” she added, according to a transcription of her remarks in South Korea’s Joongang Ilbo.
On Sunday, Vice President Pence told Fox News that there was “no question” President Trump would cancel the meeting if necessary. “It would be a great mistake for Kim Jong-un to think he could play Donald Trump.”
He also noted, in response to a question about remarks made by National Security Advisor John Bolton, that “there was some talk about the Libya model” of denuclearization, in which Tripoli sent all the materials it used to try to build a nuclear weapon to the United States for inspection. “As the President made clear,” Pence noted, “this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.”
Prior to insults against Pence, North Korea’s state media published a barrage of attacks against Bolton for bringing up Libya, as well. The South Korean news service Yonhap compiled some of the remarks, in which, “Bolton was condemned by Pyongyang as human scum in the past, [state newspaper Rodong Sinmun] said that he has a history of hindering the progress of bilateral relations by harshly slandering the North’s top leader and regime.” It also condemned Bolton for “simple thinking, racism and the narrow-minded America First policy.”
“High-ranking officials … including Bolton, White House national security adviser, are letting loose the assertions of so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment, ‘complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,’” another North Korean official, Kim Kye-gwan, said in other remarks. “Unbridled remarks provoking the other side of dialogue are recklessly made in the U.S. and I am totally disappointed as these constitute extremely unjust behavior.”