North Korea has threatened to walk away from the proposed summit with US President Donald Trump, if Washington continues to do what it described as “unlawful and outrageous acts” that could damage Pyongyang’s “goodwill”.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Thursday that her country “will neither beg the US for dialogue, nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us”, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room, or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.”
Choe issued the warning as she denounced as “ignorant and stupid” the remarks made by US Vice President Mike Pence that North Korea might end up like Libya, if it refuses to adhere to the American demand of denuclearisation.
In 2004, Libya also entered into negotiations with the US to ship out nuclear components out of the country. But six years later, the US supported the ouster of Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed by rebel fighters.
“In view of the remarks of the US high-ranking politicians who have not yet woken up to this stark reality and compare the DPRK to Libya that met a tragic fate, I come to think that they know too little about us,” Choe said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name.
“To borrow their words, we can also make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now.”
The North Korean comments came after the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said America will walk away from the summit, if Pyongyang doesn’t agree to its terms.
Pyongyang has been ramping up its criticism of the US for its “unilateral” demand of denuclearisation.
Doubts have also been raised about the planned meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.
During his meeting with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in on Tuesday, Trump said “there’s a very substantial chance it won’t work out”.
On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he will know by “next week” if the talks will proceed or not.
Visiting Washington, DC, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Secretary of State Pompeo that “now is the time” for the US and North Korea to hold the summit, if the US wants peace with Pyongyang. China is North Korea’s closest ally.
Wang said China hopes the Trump-Kim summit will take place as scheduled.
Meanwhile, Lee Chun-geun, a senior research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, told South China Morning Post that North Korea must blow up its nuclear site in Punggye-ri, instead of merely shutting it down, to prove that it is sincere in getting rid of nuclear weapons.
“If only the entrance is blown up, it would be classified as a closure and the site may be used again later if Pyongyang decides to proceed with additional nuclear tests,” Lee told the Hong Kong-based news organisation.
“If the explosions are inside – especially in the unused western and southern tunnels – you can then call this a dismantlement as North Korea won’t be able to reuse the venue again even if they change their minds in future.”
On Wednesday, North Korea allowed journalists to witness the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
But sceptics said that it could just be a repeat of the 2008 destruction of a nuclear cooling tower. North Korea resumed its nuclear weapons programme soon after that.
“If they change their mind, they can basically construct another site, and it will not take much time and will not cost much money,” Andrei Lankov, an expert at South Korea’s Kookmin University, told Al Jazeera.