A North Korean official accused the United States of using humanitarian assistance programs as a means of exerting political and economic influence over recipient countries.
The article, by senior researcher Kang Hyon Chol, was posted on the North Korean foreign ministry website on Sunday.
“In actual practice, many countries have undergone bitter tastes as a result of pinning much hope on the American ‘aid’ and ‘humanitarian assistance,'” Kang wrote.
The United States uses claims of human rights violations as a means of withholding assistance, the essay claimed, citing examples including the suspension of $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan in 2020 after rival leaders failed to form a new government.
“This vividly reveals that the American ulterior intention of linking ‘humanitarian assistance’ with ‘human rights issue’ is to legitimize their pressure on the sovereign states and achieve their sinister political scheme,” Kang wrote.
The article comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un publicly slammed senior officials last month for mishandling the Covid-19 pandemic and causing a “great crisis,” which was left unspecified.
North Korea maintains that it has had no Covid-19 cases, although many outside experts have questioned that claim.
Pyongyang has rejected offers of the AstraZeneca vaccine that was intended to be delivered through the COVAX facility, according to a report by a South Korean state-run think tank last week.
North Korea had been slated to receive nearly 2 million doses from the global vaccine sharing facility but has expressed concerns about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The country also appears reluctant to receive Chinese-made vaccines due to efficacy questions, according to the report from the Institute for National Security Strategy, which is associated with South Korea’s spy agency.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said last month that he would push for providing North Korea with vaccines, and Seoul has pointed to humanitarian aid as a means of kickstarting stalled relations with Pyongyang.