When a nation has acted irrationally for so many years, it’s difficult to change into a country that all of sudden “gets it.” North Korea seems to be one of these countries.
North Korea’s first Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan issued a statement on behalf of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday concerning the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean “supreme leader” Kim Jong Un, scheduled for June 12.
The English translation of the statement, released by Jonathan Cheng of the Wall Street Journal, used a lot of threatening language as to North Korea’s displeasure with some in the U.S. commenting ahead of the summit that the main goal is “nuclear abandonment” by North Korea.
From the looks of the statement, it sounds like North Korean leaders thought that the purpose of the summit with Trump was merely to improve relations between the two nations.
“In response to the noble intention of Chairman Kim Jong Un, President Trump stated his position for terminating the historically deep-rooted hostility and improving the relations between the DPRK and the U.S.,” the statement said. “I appreciated the position positively with an expectation that upcoming DPRK-U.S. summit would be a big step forward for catalyzing détente on the Korean peninsula and building a great future.”
However, that’s when the statement takes a turn. It seems as though the North Koreans aren’t used to people — outside of a country’s leader — making public remarks about the prospects of the leadership’s business.
North Korea’s discontent stems from comments made by White House national security adviser John Bolton on the Sunday morning shows this past week about the upcoming summit with North Korea and how similar they think it is to past situations in Libya and Iraq.
“On the denuclearization side of the program, that means all aspects of their nuclear program," Bolton said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. "Clearly, the ballistic missiles program, as with Iran, with the intention of being a delivery system for nuclear weapons -- that's gotta go. I think we need to look at their chemical and biological weapons programs as well.”
North Korea’s statement took exception with Bolton’s comments.
“This is not an expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue,” the statement continued. “It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers.”
The worry from North Korea is that Kim Jong Un would eventually end up like the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi ended up being killed after his government was overthrown eight years after Libya denuclearized.
The statement even said that North Korea’s attitude towards Bolton in general is that of “repugnance.” The DPRK’s feelings about Bolton were then followed by multiple paragraphs worth of shade thrown at the U.S. and Trump.
“But now, the U.S. is miscalculating the magnanimity and broad-minded initiatives of the DPRK as signs of weakness and trying to embellish and advertise as if these are the product of its sanctions and pressure,” the statement said after commenting that North Korea has already stated its intention “for denuclearization of the Korea peninsula.”
The statement then concluded with advice for Trump:
If President Trump follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, he will be recorded as more tragic and unsuccessful president than his predecessors, far from his initial ambition to make unprecedented success.
If the Trump administration takes an approach to the DPRK-U.S. summit with sincerity for improved DPRK-U.S. relations, it will receive a deserved response from us. However, if the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit.
Whether talks of a summit between the U.S. and North Korea was a setup by the North Koreans to make the U.S. look bad — or whether North Korea is suffering from an inferiority complex — this is a situation that needs to be handled carefully and with calculation.