The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) carried out "a very important test" at a satellite launching ground on Saturday, after which U.S. President Donald Trump said in response that the DPRK side risks losing "everything" if it acts "in a hostile way."
As a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for Washington to change its policies looms, a war of words has escalated again. Analysts said a return to angry exchanges signals that major differences linger between the two countries.
"VERY IMPORTANT TEST"
The DPRK carried out "a very important test" at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground on Saturday afternoon, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Sunday.
The DPRK's Academy of National Defense Science reported the results of "the successful test of great significance" to the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), the report said.
The test will "have an important effect on changing the strategic position of the DPRK once again in the near future," the KCNA added without elaboration.
Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un "has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way."
In a statement carried by the KCNA on Monday, Ri Su Yong, member of the Political Bureau and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the WPK, said the recent words and actions of Trump "sound like a threat to someone at a glance, but they are a corroboration that he feels fear inside."
"Trump might be in great jitters, but he had better accept the status quo that as he sowed, so he should reap, and think twice if he does not want to see bigger catastrophic consequences," Ri said.
DEADLINE FOR PROGRESS
Kim has set a deadline for the United States to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal by the end of this year, otherwise his country will seek a "new way."
Analysts were quoted by The New York Times as saying that the test could be a warning that the DPRK is considering returning to long-range missile tests.
Wang Junsheng, an international relations expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the DPRK's tough stance on the United States is aimed at urging Washington to change its hostile attitude toward the country and lift economic sanctions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called on the DPRK to resume talks with the United States on denuclearization, said his spokesman.
"Diplomatic engagement is the only pathway to sustainable peace and complete and verifiable denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula," spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a daily press briefing.
The momentum for dialogue remains, Wang said, noting that for the DPRK to develop its economy and get rid of sanctions, it must talk to the United States.
Progress in the peaceful denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula would not only be "a plus" for the Trump administration, but would also serve the national interests of the U.S., he added.
UPS AND DOWNS
With concerns mounting about DPRK-U.S. relations, other analysts have also warned of the possibility of "a sharp deterioration", as there have been ups and downs since Kim and Trump launched negotiations last year to resolve the peninsula's nuclear issue.
The two leaders held their first summit in Singapore in June 2018, after which the two leaders agreed on the complete denuclearization of and a permanent peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula.
Denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since February's second summit between Kim and Trump in Hanoi, which ended without a deal.
After an impromptu meeting with Kim at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom in June, Trump said the United States and the DPRK would set up teams to resume the stalled denuclearization talks in two to three weeks.
The DPRK and the United States held working-level denuclearization negotiations in Stockholm in October, with these talks also ending without progress.
At a recent NATO summit in London, Trump spoke of the possibility of military force from the U.S. side.
Pak Jong Chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army of the DPRK, said in response, "I clearly state here that if the U.S. uses any armed forces against the DPRK, we will also take prompt corresponding actions at any level."