Tuesday, January 16, 2018

North Korea's aggressive rhetoric draws stern responses from China, U.S.

BEIJING — The United States and China reacted sharply to the latest torrent of belligerent language from North Korea, which called the United States its "archenemy" and said it planned to conduct another nuclear test despite international sanctions.

China called for renewed negotiations with Pyongyang, while the United States promised "additional steps" beyond the expanded sanctions adopted by the United Nations this week. The sanctions notably had the support of Beijing, suggesting growing frustration with its longtime ally.

The two superpowers were reacting to a tirade issued Thursday by North Korea's National Defense Commission that was provocative even by Pyongyang's elevated standards.

Calling the United States the "archenemy of the Korean people," the commission went on to say: "We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States."

"Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words," it added. The statement was released by the official North Korean news service.

North Korea's confrontational stand dampened hopes that the country might be following a more moderate course under its new 30-year-old leader, Kim Jong Un, who took over 13 months ago after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney called the remarks "needlessly provocative." Carney said the recent U.N. Security Council resolution freezing assets and banning travel by North Korean officials should send a "strong message of the international community's opposition to North Korea's provocations."

"The United States will be taking additional steps in that regard," he said, but declined to say what those actions might be.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States is "very concerned" about North Korea's threats and is "fully prepared ... to deal with any kind of provocation."

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