North Korea lambasted South Korean President Park Geun-hye Monday for her remarks made in China that Pyongyang should give up its nuclear weapons.
In a statement issued in the name of an unidentified spokesman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK), the North warned such remarks "constitute unacceptable provocations against the country's dignity."
Park on Saturday called for the North's denuclearization at a lecture given at Beijing's Tsinghua University during her four-day state visit to China, saying that Pyongyang's aim to simultaneously push forward economic construction and build up its nuclear force is an unattainable goal.
Calling on the North to become a responsible member of the international community, Park, who returned home Sunday, said that if the North takes such measures, the South will offer wholehearted support.
The CPRK official said that Park's remarks are ludicrous and an insult to the policy stance of the DPRK, which stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
"Park talks about new inter-Korean relations and a new Korean Peninsula, and urges 'change' yet it is the South Korean government that really needs to change," the representative said in a report carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
"The president is moving to entice the aid of foreign powers to disarm the North and compel it to change but made clear such a ploy is futile," the report monitored in Seoul said.
"Our nuclear capability can never become a bargaining tool and is not negotiable," the CPRK official said, claiming the latest comments are no different from the "nukes, opening and 3,000 dollars" strategy advocated by the former Lee Myung-bak administration.
The strategy calls for Seoul to help the North attain a per capita income of $3,000, if the communist country gives up its nuclear weapons.
The spokesman said that if the South really wants improved cross-border relations, it must give up its pro-U.S. policies, end its confrontational rhetoric and approach current state of South-North affairs in a way that best reflects the interests of the Korean people.
The CPRK also said that it is carefully watching Park's actions with its "last ounce of patience," an indication it may be considering tougher action down the line.
Responding to the North's latest verbal attack, South Korea's Ministry of Unification expressed grave regret and called on Pyongyang to exercise restraint.
"The CPRK's comments mark the second time since May that the North has directly criticized the president," ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said. He cautioned that for the sake of improved inter-Korean relations the North needs to modify what it says against the head of a country and exercise basic manners.
The official made clear that while Pyongyang raised issue with the chief executive's remarks on not permitting the North to have nuclear weapons, it must realize that calls for denuclearization reflect the wishes of the international community as a whole.
He said the world wants to resolve the nuclear issue that threatens peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Despite the harsh words, North Korea watchers in Seoul said Pyongyang seems to have left the door open for talks.
"Calling on Seoul to reflect the interest of the Korean people foremost, and its reference to exercising patience toward Park can be a sign that the North is in a tight fix and cannot ignore calls for talks outright," said Chang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.
Others said that despite Pyongyang's disgruntlement toward Seoul's present North Korean policy, the country may have little leeway with all related countries calling for South-North talks.
Beijing has steadfastly advocated dialogue, while Washington made clear last week that it fully supports an improvement in cross-border relations and said that unless there is a gain in South-North ties, no fundamental improvements in U.S.-North Korean relations can occur. (Yonhap News)