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VOA Exclusive: North Korean Ultimatum to US: Stop the Pressure on Human Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. —A high-ranking North Korean official has issued a warning to the United States: America’s continued pressure on the human rights situation in North Korea will lead Pyongyang to review its policy toward the United States.

The warning came from North Korean deputy UN Ambassador Jang Il Hun, who gave an exclusive interview to VOA’s Korean Service in New York that laid out his country’s positions on key diplomatic issues between Washington and Pyongyang, including North Korea’s nuclear program and its human rights record.

“If America continues to press us on the human rights issue,” Ambassador Jang said, “we have no option but to review our policy toward America completely.”

He did not elaborate on what a review of policy meant specifically.

A UN report in February detailed gross violations of human rights by the North Korean regime. Pyongyang has categorically denied the accuracy of the report and released a report of its own defending its human rights record.

Asked whether the North will allow a visit by an investigator from outside to probe the human rights situation inside the country, the North Korean envoy replied: “It is a subject for discussion as long as the matter is handled in a positive manner.”

The ambassador also accused the United States of masterminding international criticism to launch a smear campaign against his country’s political system.

Recently, North Korea has signaled renewed interest in resuming the stalled talks on its nuclear program. However, Jang told VOA: “I do not see the point of having the Six-Party Talks at this point.”

The interview with VOA Korean Service reporter Baik Sungwon followed a discussion in New York Monday between U.S. experts and North Korean diplomats hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.