For the second straight day, North Korea yesterday hurled unusually personal criticism at President Bush, calling him a "fascist tyrant" and "human trash." The official statements strongly suggested the communist nation is seeking to disrupt further talks on its nuclear programs before the U.S. presidential election, some U.S. officials said.
Senior-level talks are planned for next month, but North Korea has balked at holding working-level talks this month that would pave the way for another six-nation negotiating round. It told the Chinese it has substantive problems with holding such talks now.
North Korea "can no longer pin any hope on the six-party talks, and there is a question as to whether there is any need for it to negotiate with the U.S. anymore," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said.
On Monday, in a statement attributed to Pyongyang's foreign ministry, North Korea likened Bush to Adolf Hilter and said recent comments by Bush on the campaign trail made it "quite impossible" to attend any talks and "deprived [North Korea] of any elementary justification to sit at the negotiating table with the U.S."
North Korea said yesterday that further talks are pointless and pointedly said it would "bolster up its war deterrent'' -- code for its nuclear arsenal -- "both in quality and quantity in order to beat back any aggressor at a single blow." U.S. intelligence analysts believe that North Korea has in the past year significantly increased its stockpile of nuclear material for weapons.
North Korea's ire was raised when Bush, campaigning last week in Wisconsin, called North Korean leader Kim Jong Il a "tyrant" when he alluded to the administration's effort to enlist other countries to restrain North Korea's nuclear ambitions. "I felt it was important to bring other countries into the mix, like China and Japan and South Korea and Russia, so there's now five countries saying to the tyrant in North Korea, 'Disarm, disarm,' " Bush said at a campaign event.
Publicly, administration officials have dismissed North Korea's statements as typical bluster by the reclusive state in advance of negotiations. "I wouldn't make the connection, certainly, between these comments and the talks," State Department spokesman J. Adam Ereli said yesterday. "I would simply reiterate what we said yesterday, that obviously we take issue with those statements. We do not believe they're appropriate to diplomatic discourse."
But some administration officials believe Pyongyang is seeking to scuttle the talks in order to deprive Bush of any political advantage from movement on the Korean issue. Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry has criticized Bush for not negotiating directly with North Korea, a long-sought goal of North Koreans in more than a year of talks.
"They were looking for an excuse, and Bush calling Kim a 'tyrant' is a ready-made excuse," an administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He noted that the language in the statements was unusually pointed and personal and appeared designed to give Kerry an opportunity to say the Bush administration had mishandled the negotiations.
"Had Bush [had] even an iota of elementary reason, morality and ability to judge reality as a human being, he would have not dared defile the political system of his dialogue partner so malignantly," the KCNA statement said.
"Bush is, in fact, a thrice-cursed fascist tyrant and man-killer as he revived the fascist war doctrine which had been judged by humankind long ago and is now bringing dark clouds of a new Cold War to hang over our planet and indiscriminately massacring innocent civilians after igniting the Afghan and Iraqi wars," the statement said. It added: "It is the greatest tragedy for the U.S. that Bush, a political idiot and human trash, still remains in the presidential office of the world's only 'superpower,' styling himself "an emperor of the world.'"