North Korean officials have taken aim at the characterization of their country as a “rogue state” in the newly released U.S. Department of Defense 2019 Indo-Pacific Strategy Report.
A statement released Wednesday by the president of the Institute for Disarmament and Peace of the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the description as a “provocation against the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].”
“That the U.S. has called the DPRK, its dialogue partner, a ‘rogue state’ is a clear infringement upon the latter’s sovereignty and dignity, and it is nothing less than a de facto declaration of confrontation,” the statement, presented as an answer to a question posed by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, noted.
The statement suggested that the rogue state description was at odds with the goals of the June 12, 2018, Singapore joint declaration between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“The United States has thus explicitly revealed once again in the face of the world its aggressive attempt to bring us to our knees by force, while totally denying the spirit of the June 12 DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement where the U.S. has committed to terminate the hostile bilateral relations and establish new one.”
The statement agreed by Trump and Kim in Singapore pledged both sides to work toward “new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.”
The latest statement criticizing the 2019 Indo-Pacific Strategy Report comes amid a broader decline in U.S.-North Korea relations since the February 27-28 summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, which ended without any deal.
Last month, North Korea carried out its first ballistic missile launches after a pause of more than 500 days. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton criticized those launches as a violation by North Korea of its obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions.
In April, Kim warned the United States that it would have to arrive a “bold decision” regarding its policy toward North Korea if a third summit could take place. Kim said that North Korea would wait until the end of the year.
In this week’s statement criticizing the rogue state designation, North Korea put forward a warning that it could step up “countermeasures” to U.S. “hostile acts,” echoing language Kim used in April before the May ballistic missile launches.
“We are following with high vigilance the recent maneuvers of the U.S. to increase military pressure on us through several occasions,” the statement noted.