- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Top North Korean officials on Wednesday said President Trump’s diplomatic outreach is little more than a front and that Washington is secretly plotting an “aggressive war.”

The harsh words came in direct response to the Pentagon’s revamped Indo-Pacific Strategy, released late last week. The lengthy document, the release of which coincided with a major speech in Asia by acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan, refers to North Korea as a “rogue state.”

North Korean officials took issue with that language and said it proves that despite Mr. Trump’s attempts at diplomacy, the U.S. wants war.

“That the U.S. has called [North Korea], 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,” Kim Yong-guk, president of North Korea’s Institute for Disarmament, said in a statement. The institute is a part of the nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The U.S. now becomes ever more frenzied in its attempt to achieve its ambition of disarmament first and overthrow of system thereafter, while clinging desperately to the sanctions and pressure against us,” he continued. “It is a stark reality seen by the past history that the U.S. talked about dialogue in front, but behind the screen it ran amuck to prepare for an aggressive war against its dialogue partner. We are following with high vigilance the recent maneuvers of the U.S. to increase military pressure on us through several occasions.”

The comments come one day after an unnamed North Korean official warned that “there is a limit to our patience,” and Pyongyang will not tolerate endless negotiations with the U.S. over a denuclearization deal.

In its Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Pentagon gave a nod to Mr. Trump’s diplomatic outreach — which has included two face-to-face meetings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un — but also stressed that the nation remains a major threat to the region.

“Although a pathway to peace is open for a diplomatic resolution of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, other weapons of mass destruction, missile threats, and the security challenges North Korea presents are real and demand continued vigilance,” the Defense Department said in its report.

Washington has held fast to its demand that North Korea agree to full, permanent denuclearization before it can be granted relief from economic sanctions. Pyongyang has demanded the lifting of some sanctions before it commits to a denuclearization effort.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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