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North Korea blasts 'gangster-like logic' of US reaction to missile test

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Commuters watch a TV showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Joe Biden during a news program at a railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26, 2021. (Photo by AP)

North Korea has lashed out at US President Joe Biden over his comments on Pyongyang’s recent test-launch of two ballistic missiles, calling the remarks “provocation” and “encroachment” on the country’s right to self-defense.

North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced in a statement on Friday that Pyongyang had a day earlier launched two “new-type tactical guided projectiles” from its east coast into the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea in Korea.

The missiles, which can carry a warhead of up to 2.5 tons, as the state media outlet reported, flew approximately 300 miles over the East Sea and accurately hit the target off the coast.

Following the launch, Biden condemned the test as “destabilizing” and said it had violated UN Security Council resolutions, warning that Washington would respond if Pyongyang escalated its weapons tests.

Ri Pyong Chol, a leading official in North Korea's missile program who had supervised the test, said on Saturday that the US president has taken a “wrong first step,” and his comments revealed Washington’s "deep-seated hostility" to Pyongyang.

"We express our deep apprehension over the US chief executive faulting the regular testfire, exercise of our state's right to self-defense, as the violation of UN 'resolutions' and openly revealing his deep-seated hostility," Ri said in a statement carried by KCNA. 

Biden's remarks were an "undisguised encroachment on our state's right to self-defense and provocation," he said, adding Washington might face "something that is not good" if it continues to make "thoughtless remarks."

Ri accused the Biden administration of "exploiting every opportunity" to provoke Pyongyang by branding the country as a "security threat."

The North Korean official also underlined that the test, which marked Pyongyang’s first weapons test since Biden took office in January, was self-defensive against threats posed by South Korea and the US with their joint military exercises.

Ri said it was “gangster-like logic” for the United States to criticize the North’s tactical weapons tests when Washington was freely testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and could send their strategic military assets to the Korean Peninsula at any time.

He said Pyongyang has no options other than building “invincible physical power” to defend itself because the United States and South Korea “constantly pose military threats” and continue with their combined military exercises.

The Thursday’s launch came after joint exercises by the US and South Korean militaries that ended earlier this month and a visit to the region by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s influential sister decried the joint military drills last week and warned Washington to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace” for the next four years.

Observers had already warned that if the Biden administration moved forward with the joint exercises with South Korea, it would likely sabotage any prospect of diplomacy with North Korea in the near future.

North Korea has long been under harsh sanctions by the United Nations and the US over its nuclear and missile programs, which it describes as deterrent against another possible invasion.

Former US president Donald Trump met with the North’s leader three times, but he refused to meet Pyongyang’s demand for the removal of some sanctions in return for major North Korean measures toward demilitarization.

The move hampered further diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington and prompted Kim to announce an end to a moratorium on the country's missile tests.

The talks have also been deadlocked since February 2019.

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