The US State Department hit back on Thursday at North Korea’s denunciation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “by no means intelligent” and her remarks on denuclearization as “vulgar,” saying those terms better describe the regime in Pyongyang.
“What is vulgar is that the North Korean government chooses to harvest missiles rather than enough food for its people,” Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley said in defense of Clinton.
“And what is unintelligent is the path that the North Korean government has chosen. It’s a dead-end which dooms the North Korean people to a dismal future,” he said.
Clinton earlier said that Pyongyang had “no friends left” to defend it from nuclear sanctions, which triggered a testy response from the Stalinist regime.
Regime officials described Clinton’s renewed offer of a package of incentives in return for disarmament as “nonsense,” and slammed the secretary of state as unintelligent and a “funny lady.”
“Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping,” a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying in attacking her “vulgar” remarks.
Clinton was speaking at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Phuket, where she was plugging international moves on denuclearization efforts.
Asked about Pyongyang’s unflattering remarks, the former top US negotiator on North Korea’s nuclear program linked them to the country’s “succession problem” in the wake of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s ill health.
“I know the North Koreans are second to none when it comes to name-calling, but I think they are in a lot of trouble right now,” US Ambassador Chris Hill, now the top US diplomat in Baghdad, told NBC News. “They are undergoing a lot of domestic issues right now. They clearly have a serious succession problem looming and they are not sure about what to do about it.”
North Korea, said Hill, who visited the reclusive Stalinist state several times in 2007 and last year, is “one of the world’s least successful countries.”
Pyongyang quit six-party talks with the US, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea after the UN Security Council censured it for a rocket launch in April.
Hill said the US was “doing fairly well” in its close cooperation with its partners in the stalled multilateral talks.
North Korea often resorts to ad hominem verbal attacks, especially in times of crisis.
Clinton’s predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, was called a “political imbecile” in July 2006 after having condemned seven missile tests launched by Pyongyang.
In 2003, the official KCNA news agency called then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld “a human butcher and fascist tyrant” worse than Adolf Hitler after he called the Pyongyang regime “evil.”