The war drums are starting to beat again.
The North Korean media lashed out at the "double-dealing" US for "hatching a criminal plot" against Pyongyang, days after Donald Trump told Secretary of State Mike Pompe to cancel his upcoming trip to North Korea. In an editorial, Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling party, said that US units based in Okinawa, Japan were staging drills aimed at "infiltration into Pyongyang." The paper was citing an unnamed South Korean media outlet.
The US "is busy staging secret drills involving man-killing special units while having a dialogue with a smile on its face," the paper wrote, adding that Pyongyang cannot help but note “the double-dealing attitudes” of Washington.
Resorting to language last week during the peak of the tensions between the US and North Korea, the newspaper said that "such acts prove that the US is hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war against the DPRK [North Korea] and commit a crime which deserves merciless divine punishment."
The editorial, which did not mention the Pompeo visit, urged Washington to give up the “pointless military gamble” and implement the Singapore agreement, in which the leaders pledged to work towards a complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
It wasn't clear which drills the North was referring to; Okinawa is host to nearly half of the 47,000 US troops based in Japan. The troops repeatedly hold military exercises in the area.
A spokesman at the US Embassy in Seoul told Reuters that he had no information about the military exercise mentioned in the paper.
Relations between the two states have experienced ups and downs in the past year. One year ago, "dotard" Trump and the "short and fat" Kim Jong-un engaged in fierce verbal exchanges, threatening each other with “fire and fury” and "hammers of war." Later, however, relations took a U-turn, with Trump and Kim holding a summit in Singapore and the North agreeing to dismantle its nuclear testing site. After the meeting, Trump even claimed that there is no longer a nuclear threat from Pyongyang.
Relations and negotiations, however, have been all but deadlocked since U.S. President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June.
Since then, Pyongyang has called for a declaration of peace as part of security guarantees designed to encourage it to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, while the Trump administration said a peace deal and other concessions will only come after more progress on denuclearisation. In part to reassure North Korea, Trump canceled or delayed joint military drills with South Korea, but smaller exercises continue.
Pompeo has pressed for tangible steps toward North Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear arsenal while Pyongyang is demanding that Washington first make concessions of its own.
This culminated last Friday, when Trump tweeted that “sufficient progress” towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not being made, and he blamed China for hindering the progress, due to the ongoing trade spat between Washington and Beijing. “I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time,” he revealed.
...Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2018
Even so, Trump sent his “warmest regards and respect” to Kim, and said that Pompeo “looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future,” once the current US-China trade dispute is resolved Meanwhile, China expressed "serious concern" about Trump’s comments, which it called "irresponsible."
It is unclear if North Korea will now telegraph that it is resuming its nuclear program development, although if prior verbal spat are any indication, this may be the most likely next step.