A top North Korean diplomat says Washington has “crossed the line” and effectively declared war against Pyongyang by putting the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, on its list of sanctions.
Han Song Ryol, the director general of the US affairs department at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in an interview published on Thursday that the US’s recent actions constitute “a declaration of war.”
“The United States has crossed the red line in our showdown,” he said, adding, “We regard this thrice-cursed crime as a declaration of war.”
On July 6, the US imposed unilateral sanctions on the North Korean leader for the first time over claims that he is responsible for a long list of rights violations.
According to a statement by the US Treasury Department, 10 other individuals and five government ministries and departments were also sanctioned.
Washington has imposed an array of embargoes on North Korea but this was the first time that the North Korean leader was personally placed under sanctions.
In March, North Korea was hit by the most crippling sanctions by the United Nations and the West over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
The country describes its nuclear capabilities as a deterrent against hostile US policies, accusing Washington of plotting with its regional allies to topple the government in Pyongyang.
US, South Korea warned against joint drills
Elsewhere in his remarks, the top North Korean diplomat warned against planned joint drills by Washington and Seoul, saying a vicious showdown could erupt if the two allies hold annual war games next month.
The United States and South Korea regularly conduct joint military exercises south of the Korean Demilitarized Zone separating the North from South Korea.
“We are all prepared for war, and we are all prepared for peace,” Han said. “If the United States forces those kinds of large-scale exercises in August, then the situation caused by that will be the responsibility of the United States.”
The senior diplomat also dismissed calls for Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.