Although it appeared for a short while that the U.S. and North Korea summit would take place according to plan, recently there have been questions surrounding whether it would take place at all. Now, North Korea’s foreign minister Choe Son-hui has made an official statement through the state-controlled media, Korean Central News Agency. Choe said that the future of the summit “entirely rests on the decision and behavior of the U.S.,” according to Yonhap News Agency.
During the statement, Choe warned that “Whether the U.S. 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.” The suggestion of such a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown” is quite unlike Kim Jong Un’s previous requests to meet with President Trump. Although there appeared to be progress in anticipation of the historic summit between Trump and Kim, relations have staled in recent weeks. Notably, North Korea accused the U.S. and South Korea of holding military drills in anticipation of a North Korea takeover.
Additionally, Choe said that Pence making comments about approaching North Korea like Libya is “stupid.”
“U.S. Vice-President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, military option for North Korea never came off the table, the U.S. needs complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and so on… As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice-president.”
Pence made his remarks on Monday, saying that “There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal,” reported CNN. When Pence was asked if his remarks could be taken as a threat by North Korea, he only replied, “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.”
The statement angered North Korea because the Libya conflict resulted in leader Moammar Gadhafi being killed by Washington-backed rebels. Previously, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, hinted that the Libya model could be applicable to North Korea.
Updated: North Korea says it’s up to the U.S. to decide whether Kim and Trump meet at a summit table in Singapore or in a "nuclear-to-nuclear showdown." Also, calls Pence a “political dummy” who's making "ignorant and stupid remarks" https://t.co/Wrtfp5ocZl pic.twitter.com/3cJdmg2ljQ— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) May 24, 2018
Although North Korea has previously agreed to denuclearize the peninsula, they are now claiming that they are being “pushed into a corner.” For South Korean President Moon Jae-In, these threats by North Korea are a reason to worry. In fact, Moon has expressed his concern about “the possibility of backsliding into ‘fire and fury.’”