North Korea is no fan of Mike Pompeo.
In a scathing attack, a North Korean official accused the U.S. secretary of state — who has led multiple delegations to Pyongyang in the last year — of “talking nonsense” and said that if denuclearization talks resume, North Korea doesn’t want Pompeo involved.
In fact, the Hermit Kingdom apparently blames Pompeo for the entire failure of the Hanoi summit, when President Trump abruptly walked away from the table. The official wants someone else “more careful and mature in communicating” than Pompeo to lead any other talks.
“[The] Hanoi summit gives us a lesson that whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, the talks go wrong, without any results even from the point close to success,” the North Korean official said. “I am afraid that if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled.”
The comments published just hours after Pyongyang announced that Kim Jong Un had overseen the successful test of a new “tactical guided weapon” with a “powerful warhead” — though North Korea provided no more information about the test and didn’t publish any images of the new weapon.
The Pompeo bashing came from Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the Department of American Affairs, who spoke to North Korea’s state-run media outlet KCNA. Kwon said the secretary of state was “talking nonsense” when he made public comments about denuclearization talks between North Korea and the U.S., which “subject him to public ridicule.”
Kwon was referring to comments Pompeo made during a speech at Texas A&M University earlier this week that suggested negotiations on how the sides move forward on decnuclearization would be done by the end of the year.
During previous visits to Pyongyang, Pompeo “pleaded for denuclearization,” according to Gun. The North Korean official added that during recent Congressional hearings, Pompeo “spouted reckless remarks hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership.”
During a hearing on Capitol Hill last week, Pompeo labeled Kim a “tyrant.”
Kwon also said it’s “fortunate” that Kim and Trump remain “on good terms,” despite Pompeo “fabricating stories after his own taste.”
The call to replace Pompeo and the test of a new weapon came as talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since the failed Hanoi summit, and as Kim increasingly looks to Russia and China as a way out of crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.N.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Wednesday that Trump was open to a third summit with Kim but not until he sees “a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.”
While Pompeo has played a part in denuclearization talks, U.S. Special Envoy to North Korea Stephen Biegun has led the low-level talks about trying to restart the process with officials from Pyongyang.
Biegun is in Moscow this week to discuss the situation on the Korean peninsula with his Russian counterparts ahead of a meeting between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin this month, which the Kremlin confirmed on Thursday morning.
The lack of detail about the new weapons test will add to the level of uncertainty about Kim’s plans, though U.S. Northern Command and Strategic Command told CNN that no missile launch was detected from North Korea.
Pyongyang has not conducted a missile test for almost two years but announced last November that it had tested a similarly-ambiguous new “ultramodern tactical weapon.”
Cover image: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turns from the podium after speaking at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)