A senior North Korean official warned Thursday that the United States must decide whether it wants dialogue or a nuclear war.
Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui's ultimatum was carried by the North's state-run KCNA news agency and came as both Pyongyang and Washington officials have been openly questioning whether to go ahead with a scheduled June 12 summit between leaders Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.
With the Trump administration already demanding North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, Choe insisted it was Washington who asked for dialogue, and "whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at a nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States."
She cautioned the U.S. could "taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now".
Choe singled out American Vice President Mike Pence for comparing North Korea's situation with that of Libya before Muammar Gaddafi's demise in 2011, saying Pence should have considered the "terrible consequences" of his comments.
The North Korean diplomat closed her statement by suggesting she will recommend that her leader reconsiders meeting Trump if the U.S. "clings to unlawful and outrageous acts".
Despite Choe's warning, the North was expected to go ahead with a symbolic first denuclearization step later Thursday, with a group of foreign media assembled in the reclusive state for the planned demolition of its nuclear test site