North Korea is threatening to reconsider Kim Jong-un's participation in a summit with President Donald Trump next month, saying that it is up to the United States to decide whether it wants to "meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown".
The punchy statement comes a day after Trump suggested that he was open to postponing or canceling the summit, scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12, if North Korea did not meet "certain conditions", without elaborating.
A close aide to Kim unleashed a torrent of invective against the Trump Administration today, calling Vice-President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for remarks he made to Fox News on Tuesday.
"As a person involved in the US affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US Vice-President," said Choe Son Hui, a vice-foreign minister who was previously the regime's top official in charge of relations with the US. She is also thought to have direct access to Kim.
On Tuesday, just days after a North Korean broadside at national security adviser John Bolton for his mention of a "Libya model" for the denuclearisation of the North, Pence doubled down on the analogy.
"As the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn't make a deal," Pence told Fox News. Asked if this could be interpreted as a threat, Pence said: "Well, I think it's more of a fact."
As preparations for the summit continue, both Bolton and Pence have touted the "Libya model", whereby Muammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons programme in 2003 in return for sanctions relief.
The North Korean regime, however, remembers what happened a few years later: Gaddafi was overthrown and brutally killed by his opponents in 2011.
Choe said such comparisons betrayed Pence's lack of knowledge.
"We could surmise more than enough what a political dummy he is as he is trying to compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them," she said in a statement released by the North's official Korea Central News Agency.
"If he is vice-president of 'single superpower' as is in name, it will be proper for him to know even a little bit about the current state of global affairs and to sense to a certain degree the trends in dialogue and the climate of détente," she said.
If the United States "offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts", Choe said she would suggest Kim reconsider attending the Singapore summit.
"We will neither beg the US for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us," she said, returning to military threats.
"Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision ... of the US."