North Korea’s state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, accused the United States in a column Sunday of “hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war.” The accusation came shortly after President Donald Trump’s announcement that he had instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to travel to North Korea until China resumes productive participation in denuclearization.
Neither Rodong Sinmun nor the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the official wire service of the country, reported on the canceled trip. Instead, Rodong Sinmun published articles over the weekend with the antagonistic tone towards the United States typical of the newspaper before President Donald Trump met with dictator Kim Jong-un personally in Singapore in June but had become increasingly rare since the two nations began engaging in denuclearization talks.
Trump canceled Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang, scheduled for this week, on Friday, posting on Twitter that he believed that China’s involvement in talks with North Korea had become counterproductive and meetings with North Korean officials would not be fruitful in the current climate.
Rodong Sinmun reported on Sunday, citing “a South Korean radio,” that the United States had recently engaged in joint air drills with Japan to practice “the infiltration of Pyongyang.” The newspaper called the drills “extremely provocative and dangerous military moves to mar the hard-won atmosphere of the peace on the Korean peninsula.”
“Such acts prove that the U.S. is hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war against the DPRK and commit a crime which deserves merciless divine punishment in case the U.S. fails in the scenario of the DPRK’s unjust and brigandish ‘denuclearization first,'” Rodong Sinmun continued. “The U.S. would be sadly mistaken if it thinks that it can browbeat someone through trite ‘gunboat diplomacy.'”
Reuters reports that the U.S. Embassy in Seoul could not confirm the drills, telling the outlet that it had no information on any such exercise. Nor is there any evidence that any such exercise occurred in the South China Sea where the North Korean outlet claimed it had occurred.
In an article published on Monday, Rodong Sinmun continued to attack the United States without mentioning the canceled meeting, this time for its alleged belligerence towards China. This time, Pyongyang objected to text in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) warning of China’s illicit activities to undermine the United States.
“Foreign news reports say the American argument about a ‘Chinese threat’ was exaggerated. They also say the U.S. was trying to benefit from such an argument,” the newspaper claimed, according to South Korean outlet Yonhap. “It seems that the latest development will further worsen the China-U.S. relations already strained over their competitive exchanges of tariffs.”
Rodong Sinmun rounded out its Monday content with a column warning that unspecified “imperialists” were threatening North Korea’s way of life. Without naming the country, the article appeared to accuse the United States of being “the main cause of the unending social disorder, confusion and collision in some countries” and of spreading “cultural poisoning” globally.
“The poisoning of the bourgeois ideology and culture is the method of the imperialists for aggression,” the article claimed. “In the past the bourgeois ideology and culture played the role of guide of invasion but they are now playing the key role.”
The increase in vitriolic content against the United States since the Trump-Kim meeting appears to be a response to Washington’s refusing to lift domestic sanctions or encourage the lifting of international sanctions on North Korea following those meetings. Pompeo has repeatedly stated that any sanctions relief will arrive only after North Korea can prove that it has completely done away with its illegal nuclear weapons program and that it retains no way to reconstruct it – what is typically referred to as complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID). Pompeo was scheduled to travel to Pyongyang this week to discuss ways that North Korea could move towards establishing more trust with the West and disposing of its nuclear program.
On Friday, President Trump announced the trip would not occur.
“I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Trump said on Twitter. “Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place).”
“Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!” he concluded.
The announcement followed a confirmation from the State Department that Kim Jong-un was not scheduled to meet with Pompeo during this visit, the second time Pompeo will visit the country and not meet the dictator. Pompeo has been in Pyongyang three times since taking office as secretary of state.
“We have no expectations of meeting with Chairman Kim,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, adding that the purpose of the trip was “normalization of our types of conversations.”