Nuclear-armed North Korea warned on Monday not to cut off dialogue with the United States, but Washington's top diplomat said the United States was still looking forward to talks, even after the North described its insistence on sanctions as "ridiculous."
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week urged the nations to "continue to apply diplomatic and economic pressure" to exercise the north's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and to return to the talks.
A number of Pyongyang weapons exercises have been carried out during a long break in disarmament talks with the United States and despite the overtures from Washington offering help against the coronavirus pandemic.
"When we heard Pompeo's ridiculous language, we gave up all hope of dialogue," said an unnamed official responsible for negotiations with the United States, said the official Korean Central News Agency of the North.
"We will go our way," said the official.
Analysts say the north is further refining its weapons skills more than a year after the collapse of a summit between the leader of the north, Kim Jong Un, and President Donald Trump in Vietnam.
Negotiations on sanctions relief and what the North would be willing to give up in return have stalled since then.
North Korea has received multiple sanctions from the United Nations, the United States and others for its banned weapons programs.
Pompeo had "insulted a country with which his president was ready to build a good relationship," the official continued, referring to Trump's letter to Kim, in which he expressed his intention to work together to fight epidemics.
"It is puzzling who the real commander in chief in the United States is," said the official.
Waiting for "progress"
However, in a phone meeting with Yonhap from South Korea and other Asian news agencies, Pompeo said that his position and that of Trump were always "in step".
"We have been trying hard to push these negotiations forward on the American side, and we hope we get the opportunity," said Pompeo, referring to the groundbreaking 2018 summit in Singapore between Trump and Kim.
At this meeting, the two men signed a vague declaration of denuclearization.
"President Trump was also clear until we got to this point, until we got to the point where we had made sufficient progress along the way. The sanctions – not the American sanctions, but the UN Security Council resolutions – will continue to exist. " enforced and in place, "added Pompeo.
The North Korean official's criticism came after the North said on Monday that it had successfully tested "super-large multi-rocket launchers" the previous day.
South Korea said two projectiles – presumably ballistic missiles – were launched on Sunday from the North Korean port of Wonsan into the Japanese Sea, also known as the Baltic Sea.
With the world focused on the coronavirus pandemic, the isolated state has launched four such fires this month.
Unusually, in its missile launcher report, KCNA did not say that Kim had conducted the test on Sunday. Analysts said the north is trying to normalize such events.
Pompeo told Yonhap that the United States stands by its offer to help North Korea fight the new corona virus.
He hoped that the north and Iran would report transparently on cases, deaths and their efforts to reduce spread so that effective global countermeasures can be developed.
North Korea is one of the few remaining countries in the world where no new type of coronavirus infection has been reported. However, there has been widespread speculation that the virus has reached the isolated and impoverished nation.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)