US president Donald Trump’s love affair with North Korea appears to have gone south after a senior Pyongyang official called him a “heedless and erratic old man” on Monday, resuming insults of the U.S. president that had been set aside during a thaw.
The new insults came a day after Pyongyang announced a “very important” test of an unspecified device.
Satellite imagery indicated on Monday it may have been a rocket engine, an indication of possible future plans if Pyongyang carries out threats to declare disarmament talks a failure at year’s end.
The statement carried in state media KCNA by Kim Yong Chol, a ruling party vice-chairman who was instrumental in arranging a failed second summit in February, was the strongest salvo yet in a war of words that has rekindled in recent days.
He described Trump as impatient, rebuked him over his own rhetoric and repeated a threat from last week that Pyongyang would dust off its previous insult “dotard” for the U.S. leader.
Tensions have been rising in recent weeks as a year-end deadline approaches set by North Korea for Washington to soften its stance in negotiations. Pyongyang has conducted a series of weapons tests and issued strongly-worded statements.
The North Korean official said the country’s leader may change his views toward Trump if the president continues uttering “inappropriate, highly risky words and expressions”.
He pointed to remarks by Trump on Sunday that Kim had “far too much to lose” and did not want to interfere with an upcoming U.S. presidential election.
Those comments indicate Trump is “an old man bereft of patience”, the North Korean official said. “As he is such a heedless and erratic old man, the time when we cannot but call him a ‘dotard’ again may come.”
Another senior North Korean official, Ri Su Yong, issued a separate statement saying Trump should stop using abusive language that may further offend Kim.
Trump should think twice if he does not want to see “bigger catastrophic consequences”, said Ri, a vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party Korea, adding that North Korea will make a final judgment by the end of this year.
North Korea had lauded a “special relationship” between the leaders even as it criticized other U.S. officials. However, Pyongyang bristled last week after Trump again referred to Kim as “Rocket Man”, a nickname Trump used early in his term.
On Sunday North Korea said it carried out a “very important” test at its Sohae satellite launching station.
South Korea’s defense ministry said the site was being monitored and analyzed along with U.S. intelligence authorities.