N.Korea deems Biden’s response to missile tests ‘provocation’

North Korea deemed US President Joe Biden’s criticism of its missile tests this week a wrong first step, according to a statement released on Saturday by the state media.

Pyongyang on Thursday test-fired what it described as “new-type tactical guided missiles,” in a show of force to the new US administration. Japan and South Korea said they were short-range ballistic missiles.

Biden on Friday said he was prepared for diplomacy but that dialogue must be contingent on the end goal of denuclearization by Pyongyang, and pledged a response if the rogue nuclear nation continues to escalate tensions.

Ri Pyong Chol, secretary of the North Korean Workers’ Party’s central committee, called Biden’s remarks a “provocation” and an “undisguised encroachment on our state’s right to self-defence”, DPA news agency reported.

“I think that the new US administration obviously took its first step wrong,” Ri said, as cited by North Korean state media outlet KCNA.

“If the US continues with its thoughtless remarks without thinking of the consequences, it may be faced with something that is not good.”

Thursday’s test-firing marked North Korea’s second launch in a week, though the two missiles fired on Sunday were non-ballistic cruise missiles.

The launches came in the wake of joint military exercises by South Korean and US armed forces. The nine-day command exercise, which did not include field training, ended on Thursday last week.

North Korea is banned from testing ballistic missiles by UN resolutions and has been slapped with tough international sanctions to deter it from continuing to develop rockets that could be equipped with nuclear warheads.