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Colin Zwirko is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul.
A North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson on Monday condemned U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton for recent remarks on the country’s recent missile tests, in comments carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Reported in the KCNA article as a response to a reporter’s question, the MFA spokesperson defended the missile tests as part of “normal military exercises,” and described Bolton a “war-fanatic” threatening peace on the peninsula.
“Bolton deserves to be called a National Security Destruction Advisor who destroys peace and security, rather than a National Security Advisor working to guarantee security,” the spokesperson was quoted as having said.
The official also defended recent missile launches, stressing “it is only natural that something fired off will draw a certain trajectory, but it is like asking us to give up on our right to self-defense in not considering launch distance and rather demanding a prohibition on ballistic technology itself.”
“Our military exercises are not aimed at anyone, nor are they dangerous to neighboring countries, but [the U.S.] is impudently involving themselves in other countries’ affairs,” they added.
These comments appear to directly reflect those made by President Donald Trump in a tweet on Saturday, who said “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me.”
Likely in reference to the “others,” the DPRK foreign ministry spokesperson said “Bolton certainly has a different mindset than ordinary people by adamantly insisting a violation of [sanctions] resolutions.”
“UN Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from firing any ballistic missiles,” Bolton told reporters in Tokyo over the weekend, adding that there was “no doubt” the recent tests constituted a violation of such resolutions.
Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in an interview on Sunday would not directly say whether the White House agrees with Bolton’s assessment.
But she did elaborate on the President’s tweet, saying “we know that the activities at no point that took place over the last several weeks have been a threat to the United States or our allies,” adding that Trump remains focused on denuclearization talks.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered a similar assessment earlier this month just after the first missile test, saying the projectiles had not crossed any international boundaries and the launch would not dissuade Washington from continuing negotiations with the DPRK.
Monday’s remarks by the MFA spokesperson described Bolton as “ignorant” on the matter, and said “we have never acknowledged or been captive to the unlawful and wicked act of denying the right to survival and development of a sovereign state,” referring to the UN resolutions.
They also took exception to Bolton’s prior designation of the DPRK as part of the “Axis of Evil,” accusing the National Security Advisor of being a threat to the peace process.
Reasons for opposition to the top Trump advisor include “devising provocative policies such as preemptive strikes and regime change” and having been the “hammer that broke the 1994 Agreed Framework.”
He was also slammed for his role surrounding the Iraq War, with the spokesperson saying he had “become notorious as a war maniac by recently moving to launch another war in the Middle East and South America.”
The KCNA article ended with the MFA official reportedly calling Bolton a “human error that should go away as soon as possible.”
The criticism comes just over a month after North Korean first vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui described Bolton “dim-sighted” for what were perceived as comments placing too much responsibility on North Korea to make concessions before a third Trump-Kim summit.
They also follow a warning from the MFA on Friday which said that “as U.S. distrust and hostile acts towards us augment, our actions corresponding to them will follow.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: John Bolton’s Twitter