North Korean state-run media on Sunday slammed the U.S. for “double-dealing” by allegedly conducting what it said were “secret drills involving man-killing special units,” a charge that came just a day after a trip to Pyongyang by the top U.S. diplomat was canceled.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, issued a scathing condemnation of what it said were recent “infiltration” drills that involved the navy, Green Berets, Delta Force and other special units of the U.S. military based in Okinawa Prefecture.
The U.S. military typically does not comment on such matters, and the Rodong Sinmun commentary, summarized in English by the official Korean Central News Agency, cited South Korean media reports about the drills, which it said took place late last month or early this month.
The commentary comes in the wake of a surprise announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday that a visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo planned for this week had been nixed. Trump cited insufficient progress in negotiations for Pyongyang to relinquish its nuclear weapons in the more than two months since his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
The Rodong Sinmun commentary lambasted the U.S., alleging that it was conducting “extremely provocative and dangerous” military drills that threatened “to mar the hard-won atmosphere of the peace on the Korean peninsula,” adding that such moves could bring to a halt the ongoing negotiations over the North’s nuclear program “and prevent the implementation” of the joint statement signed by Trump and Kim in Singapore.
In the vaguely worded 1½-page joint statement, Kim agreed to “work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” while Trump committed to “provide security guarantees.”
Although Trump had portrayed the summit as a triumph, skeptics have questioned this assumption, given that Pyongyang has rejected unilaterally relinquishing its nuclear arsenal and even accused Washington of making “gangster-like” demands in the nuclear negotiations.
Still, the U.S. has repeatedly reiterated the White House’s stance that negotiations must begin with Kim first handing over his nukes.
The North has bristled at this suggestion, instead pushing for a “phased, synchronized” approach to denuclearization.
Sunday’s commentary reinforced what some observers say are fears by the North Korean regime that the U.S. and its allies could strike at its leadership if talks falter.
“Such acts prove that the U.S. is hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war against the DPRK and commit a crime which deserves merciless divine punishment in case the U.S. fails in the scenario of the DPRK’s unjust and brigandish ‘denuclearization first,’ ” the commentary said, using the acronym for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We cannot but take a serious note of the double-dealing attitudes of the U.S. as it is busy staging secret drills involving man-killing special units while having a dialogue with a smile on its face,” it added.
Both the U.S. and South Korea reportedly have created so-called decapitation units, with the implication being that, if worse comes to worst, the two militaries could pre-emptively assassinate Kim, though the ability to find and kill him — as well as the repercussions of such a move — remain debatable.