Just hours after a senior North Korean official lashed out at U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for his "stupid and ignorant" suggestion that the White House may pursue the so-called "Libya model" of denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang reportedly destroyed its primary nuclear test site in front of foreign journalists, a gesture of goodwill that shows the Trump administration's continued threats remain the primary obstacle to genuine diplomatic progress.
"If the U.S. continues with their evil acts, I will ask for the summit to be reconsidered."
—Choe Son Hui, North Korea's vice-minister of foreign affairs
"The dismantling of the nuclear test ground conducted with high level transparency has clearly attested once against to the proactive and peace-loving efforts of the DPRK government being made for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and over the world," Pyongyang said in a statement after the test site was demolished.
"The discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process moving towards global nuclear disarmament, and we will continue to join hands with the world's peace-loving people in building a nuclear-free peaceful world," the statement concluded.
Destruction of the test site—witnessed by journalists from the U.S., Russia, China, and other nations—came shortly after Choe Son Hui, North Korea's vice-minister of foreign affairs, ridiculed Pence as a "political dummy" in a statement on Thursday and warned that "if the U.S. continues with their evil acts, I will ask for the summit to be reconsidered."
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"I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice president," Choe said on Thursday, in remarks carried by the state-run KCNA news agency. "We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us. Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States."
Choe appeared to be responding specifically to Pence's Fox News interview on Monday, in which he said nuclear talks with Pyongyang will "only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn't make a deal."
As Common Dreams reported last week, North Korea has made clear that it regards the Trump administration's repeated references to the Libya model—particularly by ultra-hawks like national security adviser John Bolton—as "sinister" regime change threats that could undermine the possibility of diplomacy.