North Korea slammed Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday, calling comments he made earlier this week "stupid" and saying it's prepared for a "nuclear showdown" if ongoing talks with the U.S. fail.
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Choe Son Hui, a vice minister in the North Korean Foreign Ministry, called Pence a "political dummy" for comparing North Korea to Libya, which abandoned its early-stage nuclear program at the U.S.'s behest, only to have its leader ousted and killed years later -- with help from NATO-backed troops.
"There was some talk about the Libya model," Pence said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. "As the President made clear, this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn't make a deal."
Choe called Pence's remarks "unbridled and impudent."
"We could surmise more than enough what a political dummy he is as he is trying to compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them," North Korean state media KCNA quoted Choe as saying Thursday. "In view of the remarks of the U.S.'s high-ranking politicians who have not yet woken up to this stark reality and compare the DPRK to Libya that met a tragic fate, I come to think that they know too little about us."
She said North Korea may reconsider attending the June 12 summit between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump if Pence's comments were a reflection of the U.S.'s official stance.
"We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us," Choe told KCNA. "Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States."
Choe's comments marked yet another potential hiccup in planning the summit.
Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday and later suggested that the summit could be delayed or canceled.
"Before making such reckless threatening remarks without knowing exactly who he is facing, Pence should have seriously considered the terrible consequences of his words," Choe said, according to KCNA. "To borrow their words, we can also make the U.S. taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated on Wednesday that plans for the summit in Singapore would move forward as scheduled, adding that North Korea would have to show it's taking steps towards denuclearization before the U.S. makes any concessions.
"Our eyes are wide open to the lessons of history, but we're optimistic that we can achieve an outcome that will be great for the world," Pompeo said, speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday. "Our posture will not change until we see credible steps taken toward the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."