North Korea says Biden administration took wrong first step over latest missile test

By Hyonhee Shin SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Saturday that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden had taken a wrong first step and revealed 'deep-seated hostility' by criticizing its self-defensive missile test. North Korea on Friday claimed it had launched a new type of tactical short-range ballistic missile

Reuters March 27, 2021 05:10:27 IST
North Korea says Biden administration took wrong first step over latest missile test

North Korea says Biden administration took wrong first step over latest missile test

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Saturday that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden had taken a wrong first step and revealed "deep-seated hostility" by criticizing its self-defensive missile test.

North Korea on Friday claimed it had launched a new type of tactical short-range ballistic missile. Biden said the test violated U.N. Security Council resolutions but said he remained open to diplomacy with Pyongyang.

Ri Pyong Chol, secretary of the North's ruling Worker's Party's Central Committee, said the missile test was self-defensive against threats posed by South Korea and the United States with their joint military exercises and advanced weapons.

"We express our deep apprehension over the U.S. chief executive faulting the regular testfire, exercise of our state's right to self-defence, as the violation of U.N. 'resolutions' and openly revealing his deep-seated hostility," Ri said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

Biden's remarks were an "undisguised encroachment on our state's right to self-defence and provocation," he said, adding Washington might face "something that is not good" if it continues to make "thoughtless remarks."

"I think that the new U.S. administration obviously took its first step wrong," Ri said.

He accused the Biden administration of "exploiting every opportunity" to provoke Pyongyang by branding it as a "security threat."

The test came just days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed to work to denuclearize North Korea and criticized its "systemic and widespread" human rights abuses during his visit in Seoul with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

North Korea has also slammed the South Korea-U.S. exercises which ended last week, even though they were repeatedly scaled back to facilitate a restart of denuclearization talks with Pyongyang.

Ri said Washington insisted on a "gangster-like logic" to be able to bring strategic nuclear assets to South Korea and test intercontinental ballistic missiles at its convenience, but ban North Korea from testing even a tactical weapon.

"We cannot but build invincible physical power for reliably defending the security of our state under the present situation in which South Korea and the United States constantly pose military threats ... while persistently conducting dangerous war exercises and introducing advanced weapons," he said.

The White House, which said its North Korea policy review was in the "final stages," declined to comment. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But when asked earlier about the launch and whether it would affect the policy review, department spokeswoman Jalina Porter once again condemned the test as "destabilizing."

"North Korea's unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs constitute serious threats to international peace and security," she told a regular news briefing.

"I can't underscore enough that the president and his security team are continuing to assess the situation and one of our greatest priorities right now is ensuring that we're on the same page as our allies and partners."

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)

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