Left: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il with DPRK soldiers; photo courtesy of AP
The North Korean foreign ministry said Tuesday that, in essence, the United Nations declared war on the country when it imposed sanctions for the North's nuclear test.
"It is quite nonsensical to expect the DPRK [North Korea] to yield to the pressure and threat of someone at this time when it has become a nuclear weapons state," the statement read. "The UNSC resolution ... cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war against the DPRK."
I have been unable to locate the statement on the website of KCNA (Korean Central News Agency), the official mouthpiece of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). Still, the rhetoric is consistent with the bombastic tone generally found in press releases by the DPRK, and I have no reason to question the news reports that quote KCNA.
It is important to read DPRK statements with a built-in propaganda filter, and we should not be overly alarmed by the hyperbole present in its rhetoric, even in phrases such as the "merciless blows" it will mete out to those who violate its sovereignty. This is stock in trade for a regime that has consistently demonstrated a ferocious bark without the proverbial bite.
Chun Yung-Woo, South Korea's lead negotiator in the six-nation talks on the disarmament of the DPRK, described the statements as "the usual rhetoric that they have been using" and that there were "no surprises" in the foreign ministry release.
Unfortunately, my gut reaction is that the Bush administration will use these statements will be used as "evidence" in a continuing campaign to boost support for military action against North Korea, something even South Korea wants to avoid.
Propaganda and spin, alas, are not wholly-owned subsidiaries of the DPRK.