North Korea accused the United States of using the issue of human rights to undermine its regime, the latest criticism targeting Washington since a landmark international nuclear accord reached earlier this month.
"It is the ulterior motive of the U.S. to step up its policy of pressure, sanctions and military blackmail toward the DPRK by peddling not only the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula but the 'human rights issue' and a variety of other fictions," the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
DPRK stands for Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the country's official name.
President George W. Bush last month named former White House aide Jay Lefkowitz as special envoy on human rights in North Korea. The appointment has angered the communist country, which has demanded the appointment be overturned.
Earlier this month North Korea accused Washington of planning to use the ongoing six-party negotiating framework to trick it into disarming before launching a nuclear attack. The United States, which stations 32,500 troops in South Korea, denies it plans to attack the North.
Relations between Pyongyang and Washington will worsen further "should the U.S. step up its hostile policy towards the DPRK over the nuclear issue as well as over its nonexistent 'human rights issue,"' the AP quoted Rodong Sinmun as saying.