North Korea hurls invective at Bush

SEOUL, Reuters

North Korea hurled invective at U.S. President George W. Bush for a second day on Tuesday, calling him a political idiot and human trash, and said six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions appeared doomed.

A day earlier, a Foreign Ministry spokesman for the isolated communist state had described Bush as a tyrannical imbecile who put Adolf Hitler in the shade and said Pyongyang could see no justification to negotiate with his administration.

Six-party working-level talks on the communist North’s nuclear weapons ambitions had been planned for August but have yet to materialize.

The September date for more senior talks is also in question, although diplomats note Pyongyang often raises its rhetorical voice before attending talks or compromising.

Bush had “hurled malignant slanders and calumnies” against the leadership in Pyongyang, the North’s official KCNA news agency said in a statement, referring to campaign comments made earlier this month that Pyongyang should be required to disarm.

“It is the greatest tragedy for the U.S. that Bush, a political idiot and human trash, still remains in the presidential office of the world’s only superpower, styling himself an emperor of the world,” KCNA said.

“Had Bush have (sic) even an iota of elementary reason, morality and ability to judge reality as a human being, he would have not dared defile the political system of his dialogue partner so malignantly.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Crawford, Texas, White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the latest comments “just more bluster.”

“What North Korea needs to do is take steps to end its nuclear weapons program,” McClellan said. “All five parties are sending a clear message to North Korea that they need to end their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Then they can begin to realize the full benefits of the international community.”

Washington had already rejected Monday’s comments as inappropriate and said officials of the countries were working to schedule further talks on the North’s nuclear programs.

China has played host in Beijing to three rounds of talks involving North and South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia, and a fourth round is planned by the end of next month.

The crisis over North Korea’s nuclear programs erupted in October 2002 when U.S. officials said North Korea had admitted to working on a secret program to enrich uranium for weapons. North Korea denies having such a program.

South Korea’s top negotiator to the talks left on Tuesday for Beijing for consultations on arranging a next meeting. He will meet Japanese officials in Tokyo later this week.

“Now that the U.S. has clearly revealed its true intention, the DPRK can no longer pin any hope on the six-party talks and there is a question as to whether there is any need for it to negotiate with the U.S. any more,” KCNA said.

DPRK is short for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

South Korean officials have said the North has previously turned up its belligerent rhetoric against the United States before staging an about-face and agreeing to attend negotiations.

Some North Korea analysts say the bluster masks Pyongyang’s true aim; to bide its time until it is clear whether Bush or Democrat challenger John Kerry is elected in November’s presidential election.

Bush enraged the North shortly after taking office when he called North Korean leader Kim Jong-il a loathsome “pygmy” and then later branded his impoverished nation a member of an “axis of evil” along with Iran and pre-war Iraq.