The US sanctions are “a manifestation of heinous intention to throw a wet blanket over the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation and to aggravate the situation,” an unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a report by the Korean Central News Agency, according to Reuters.
It also said the United States should stop such “anachronistic” policy toward North Korea.
The United States announced new sanctions against Pyongyang on Wednesday. The US Treasury imposed sanctions on nine entities, 16 people and six North Korean ships it accused of helping the country’s nuclear and missile programs. It said two China-based trading firms were involved in exporting millions of dollars worth of metals to help the programs.
North and South Korea have recently started face-to-face negotiations in a fragile effort to defuse long-running tensions. Pyongyang initiated that dialog, putting the US — always relying on a policy of pressure against the North — in an awkward situation.
On Friday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the breakthrough in talks between North and South Koreas must not become as a distraction from the aim of denuclearizing Pyongyang.
South Korea has welcomed the opening. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said in an address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that using military force to make North Korean stop its nuclear program was “unacceptable.”
While it is engaged in deep hostilities with Pyongyang, Seoul is opposed to military action against its northern neighbor because that may subject South Korea to easy retribution by the North.
Pyongyang argues that its weapons program is a deterrent against potential US-led military action. Pyongyang has been under a raft of harsh UN sanctions since 2006 over its missile and nuclear programs.