North Korea slammed the NATO secretary general on Wednesday following comments from Jens Stoltenberg that the United States’ European allies are within range of North Korean missiles.
Pyongyang’s state-controlled KCNA reported a North Korean spokesman for the North Korea-Europe Association said the NATO chief was “aping” U.S. President Donald Trump by addressing concerns about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
In an interview with Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, Stoltenberg said he is concerned North Korea could potentially threaten Europe with its weapons of mass destruction.
“We recognize that Europe has also entered the [North Korean] missile range, and NATO member states are already in danger,” Stoltenberg said.
North Korea condemned the statement.
“While it is clear NATO is an agency based on U.S. military power, we cannot understand why the NATO secretary general, who is not even an American, is aping Trump, more so than members of [Trump’s] administration,” North Korea stated.
Pyongyang also described Stoltenberg’s interview with the Yomiuri as a “ludicrous statement” and “impure sophistry.”
“Selling our possession of nuclear weapons as a threat to Europe and the world is preaching right and wrong, a form of impure sophistry,” North Korea said, adding its weapons of mass destruction are designed to “protect the dignity and sovereignty” of the North Korean people.
Stoltenberg is in South Korea this week, where beneath the surface of everyday life anxiety may be growing over North Korea’s provocations.
A poll released on Wednesday, and conducted by local newspaper Munhwa Ilbo, showed 45 percent of respondents do not expect the North Korea nuclear issue will be resolved peacefully.
More than 60 percent of respondents also said South Korea should seek to deploy its own nuclear weapons, according to the newspaper.
By Elizabeth Shim