North Korea warns it’s up to the U.S. to decide what ‘Christmas gift’ it will get
North Korea delivered an ominous warning to the United States on Tuesday, saying that it is “up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select” as a year-end deadline for a “new approach” by Washington to stalled nuclear talks grows closer.
“Drawing nearer is the year-end time limit the DPRK set for the U.S.,” Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Thae Song said in a statement, referring to the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“However, the U.S. is keen on earning time needed for it, talking about the ‘sustained and substantial dialogue,’ far from acting in response to the measures taken by the DPRK first,” Ri said, according to the statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Ri blasted the U.S. push for more nuclear talks as “nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the U.S.”
He said the North had “heard more than enough dialogue rhetoric” from Washington and that “no one will lend an ear to the U.S. any longer.”
Ri used his statement to remind the U.S. of the deadline, set by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, claiming that Pyongyang has “done its utmost with maximum perseverance not to backtrack from the important steps it has taken on its own initiative.”
“What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select,” Ri said.
Kim Jong Un has expressed his displeasure with the direction of the negotiations, analysts say, by conducting a flurry of weapons tests since May, including those of short-range missiles designed to evade missile-defense systems in South Korea and Japan.
Under U.N. Security Council resolutions, Pyongyang is banned from ballistic missile launches.
Some experts have said Kim could return to more provocative launches, including those of longer-range missiles, if the deadline passes without any kind of progress.
One option for getting U.S. President Donald Trump’s attention, some experts say, is for the North to again lob an intermediate-range missile over Japan. Indeed, a top North Korean Foreign Ministry official warned Saturday that Tokyo could again see “a real ballistic missile” overflying the country “in the not distant future”
In 2017, the North launched two separate intermediate-range missiles over Japan as it underwent a massive expansion in its capabilities.
The nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and the North have effectively been deadlocked since working-level talks in early October ended with Pyongyang’s top negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, saying they had broken off “entirely due to the United States’ failure to abandon its outdated viewpoint and attitude.”
In recent weeks, senior North Korean officials have repeatedly criticized the U.S. over its position in the talks.