North Korea has slammed the recent extension of US sanctions against the country as a “hostile act,” vowing never to surrender in the face of sanctions or military action.
“Our state is not a country that will surrender to the US sanctions; nor are we a country which the US could attack whenever it desires to do so,” said an unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman in a statement on Wednesday, according to the official KCNA news agency.
The spokesman described the renewal of the US bans as a “manifestation of the most extreme hostile acts,” but said North Korea “would not thirst for a lifting of [the] sanctions.”
The official also warned it would be difficult to achieve denuclearization as long as US politics were dominated by policymakers who had an “inveterate antagonism” toward North Korea.
Last week, Washington extended six executive orders containing sanctions imposed on North Korea by one year.
The North Korean response came just a day after Director of US Defense Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General Robert Ashley said the US intelligence community believed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was “not ready to denuclearize.”
The North Korean spokesman further denounced claims on Sunday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that more than 80 percent of the North Korean economy had been affected by the US-led sanctions.
He also accused Washington of “viciously slandering” Pyongyang in its latest reports on human trafficking and religious freedom around the world.
“All these speak clearly to the fact that the wild dream of the United States to bring us to our knees by means of sanctions and pressure has not changed at all but grows even more undisguised,” the statement added.
The strong condemnation of Washington came despite the recent exchange of affable messages between the leaders of the two countries, raising hopes for the revival of stalled talks.
KCNA reported earlier this week that US President Donald Trump had written a letter to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, who praised it as “excellent” and said he would “seriously contemplate the interesting content.”
Trump later said that he had written Kim a “very friendly letter” in response to a birthday greeting he had received from him the previous week.
Trump and Kim have met twice. Their second meeting collapsed in Vietnam last February when they failed to agree on mutual steps toward the demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula.
The US has over the years imposed or spearheaded rounds of sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.
Washington now demands that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons entirely before the sanctions are lifted; Pyongyang insists on a step-by-step approach that would include verifiable American commitment to end its massive military presence near its territorial waters.