The rise of Donald Trump has generated remarkable global interest in the U.S. presidential campaign — and even the North Koreans are commenting on the proposals of the business mogul.
During an interview with CNN, a Pyongyang-based official said comments made by Trump about nuclear proliferation were "totally absurd and illogical."
"The U.S. tells us to give up our nuclear program, is preparing a nuclear attack against us, and on the other hand would tell its allies to have nuclear weapons. Isn't this (a) double standard?" Ri Jong Ryul, deputy director general of the Institute of International Studies in Pyongyang, told the American broadcaster.
Ri was referring to comments made by Trump in an interview with the New York Times, in which the presidential hopeful suggested that Japan and South Korea could build up nuclear arsenals so that they would not have to depend on the United States so much. In the interview, Trump also had suggested that he would consider removing American troops from these countries if they did not contribute more funding to help house and feed them. The comments have drawn criticism from a variety of foreign-policy analysts.
Ri said Trump exemplified a broader U.S. hostility toward North Koreans. "Simply put, America's hostile acts against us are making the situation on the Korean Peninsula worse," Ri said.
The remarks from Ri appear to be the first time that a North Korean official has directly commented on Trump's statements or his place in the presidential race (though one satirical Twitter account recently misled many into believing that North Korea had referred to Trump as a "noted scholar"). While North Korean state media often criticizes foreign leaders, including President Obama, it has not followed the 2016 U.S. election cycle closely. Ri told CNN that North Koreans "don't care who becomes next U.S. President," adding that both Republicans and Democrats would continue the United States' hostile policy toward North Korea.
Despite sanctions and international isolation, North Korea has pursued a viable nuclear weapon program for years. On Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Pyongyang appears to be preparing for a fifth nuclear test soon.
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