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North Korea's supreme organ warns its patience is running out

Nov 14,2019
North Korea’s State Affairs Commission, the highest decision-making body in the country chaired by Kim Jong-un himself, slammed the United States on Wednesday on its combined military exercises with South Korea, warning that its patience stood at a breaking point.

In the first official statement put out by the body in two years, a spokesperson of the State Affairs Commission (SAC) said Washington and Seoul’s plans to stage joint aerial drills in December incited heavy anger in North Korea and presented an existential threat to ongoing denuclearization negotiations.

“The United States moreover is not accepting the deadline we set for the end of the year with patience and magnanimity,” the statement read. “Such actions from the United States constitute a blatant destruction of the June 12 joint statement, built upon the basis of mutual trust, and a complete denial of the Singapore agreement, which greatly impressed the world.”

The statement claimed that while Pyongyang respected the Washington as a dialogue partner and ceased various acts that may provoke it, the United States “took no reciprocal action” to these gestures, and instead returned them “with only betrayal.”

The various combined military exercises carried out with South Korea this year, like Dong Maeng 19-1 and the drills to test Seoul’s readiness to take up wartime operational control, in addition to the planned aerial drills next month “put North Korea-U.S. relations at the brink of disaster,” and has prompted the regime to “no longer turn a blind eye” to the United States’ “indiscriminate actions.”

North Korea “does not have the luxury, nor has any reason or justification to keep to its promises,” and has “the right as a sovereign nation to forcefully put down” threats to its security and independence.

Such a warning, which the statement justified as a tit-or-tat response to Washington’s provocations, suggests the regime could abandon its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and return to a confrontational stance towards the United States if no settlement on its denuclearization is reached by the year’s end.

“The United States better think deep and hard about what it can do in the remaining time,” the statement read. “It must also think about how our last resort to follow a ‘new path’ will affect the ‘future of the United States’.”

The belligerent tone of the statement testifies to Pyongyang’s frustration over a persistent stalemate in the negotiations over its nuclear program, which has yet to resume since the breakdown of working-level talks at Stockholm early last month.

The statement is also the latest in a series of derisive commentaries from North Korean officials towards the United States. Last week, Kwon Jong-kun, a roving ambassador of the North’s Foreign Ministry, issued a statement slamming the U.S.-South Korean joint air drills as an act tantamount to throwing a “wet blanket” over the dwindling embers of dialogue.

Given that the State Affairs Commission is constitutionally the most important leadership organ in the country, the statement can be interpreted as effectively coming from Kim himself.

“If the United States does not change its current course,” said the statement with an ominous closure, “it will soon face a much greater threat and suffer to the point it will be unable to admit its mistakes.”

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]


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