North Korea Says American 'Rogue State' Jab Is a 'Declaration of Confrontation'

Faltering U.S.-North Korean relations have taken another turn for the worse after Pyongyang protested its characterization as a "rogue state" in a recent security report published by the Pentagon.

The North Korean foreign ministry said Wednesday that the description was an undignified move of aggression, the Yonhap news agency reported.

In the Pentagon's Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, released on June 1, the U.S. military said North Korea is a "rogue state" that "remains a security challenge."

The secretive state "has developed an intercontinental ballistic missile intended to be capable of striking the continental United States with a nuclear or conventional payload," the report explained.

For all the talks between Washington and Pyongyang, the review suggested North Korea will remain a pressing concern until it completes "final, fully, verifiable denuclearization."

But the North Korean foreign ministry took issue with the report's warnings. "That the U.S. has called the [Democratic Republic of Korea], its dialogue partner, a 'rogue state' is a clear infringement upon the latter's sovereignty and dignity, and it is nothing less than a de facto declaration of confrontation," the ministry said, according to a Korean Central News Agency report published in English.

"We are following with high vigilance the recent maneuvers of the U.S. to increase military pressure on us through several occasions," the North Korean statement added. "The more the U.S. hostile acts towards the DPRK grow, the stronger our countermeasures will become."

An unexpected thaw in U.S.-North Korean relations in 2018 allayed fears that the two nations may be sliding inextricably towards a military confrontation. A subsequent summit in Singapore produced little of concrete value, though President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un did sign a document expressing their desire to work towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and lift the crippling international sanctions on Pyongyang.

But subsequent talks failed to establish a blueprint for denuclearization. A follow up summit held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February ended early as the two sides were still too far apart. According to Reuters, Trump demanded that Kim surrender all nuclear weapons and fuel before sanctions were lifted, but Kim rejected the proposal.

Relations have since been further undermined by new North Korean missile tests and the seizure of a North Korean tanker accused of violating international sanctions by transporting coal.

In the absence of constructive discussion, the North Koreans have turned to belligerent public statements in the hope of pressuring Washington to change its stance on denuclearization.

Last month, for example, the foreign ministry threatened a "fiercer response" if the U.S. did not adjust its approach, while earlier this week the ministry warned, "There is a limit to our patience."

North Korea, rogue state, Pentagon, US, military
Korean People's Army soldiers stand atop armored vehicles during a military parade on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on September 9, 2018. Getty/ED JONES/AFP