Lieberman: North Korea calling me an 'imbecile' is a compliment
North Korea called Lieberman 'an imbecile in diplomacy' after he accused Pyongyang of being involved in a 'mad arms race.'
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday responded to a personal attack from the North Korean Foreign Ministry, which called him "an imbecile," saying he views the remark as a compliment.
Lieberman addressed the North Korean insult at the weekly cabinet meeting, and said, "I see it as a compliment from the North Koreans."
North Korea on Saturday angrily denied previous Israeli allegations that Pyongyang is spreading weapons of mass destruction, denouncing Lieberman as an "ultra-rightist" and "an imbecile in diplomacy" and vowing not to tolerate Israel's alleged slander.
The North's Foreign Ministry said Saturday the country has nothing to do with the spread of WMDs. It also said it would never pardon Israel for daring to slander the dignified (North) by concocting "sheer lies."
The comments, published by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, were the first official response to Lieberman's comment this past week.
Lieberman on Tuesday urged the international community to do everything in its power to prevent Iran and North Korea from fulfilling their nuclear ambitions.
Speaking a day after North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test, Lieberman told Army Radio: "To our regret we see a mad arms race in the country. Everything must be done in order thwart their attempts to reach a nuclear capability.
Lieberman's comments came as North Korea reportedly launched tests Tuesday of two more short-range missiles, pushing the regime's confrontation with world powers further despite the threat of United Nations Security Council action.
The foreign minister added: "Up until today there were neither sanctions against Iran nor against North Korea. They need to be completely closed in terms of financial activities; the two states need to understand they are dependent on the supply of petrol because they have no refineries."
Israel, the United States and other western nations say Iran's nuclear program is aimed at manufacturing nuclear weapons. Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, insists the program is for civilian purposes only.
The Yonhap news agency and YTN television reported Tuesday that two missiles - one ground-to-air, the other ground-to-ship - with a range of about 130 kilometers were test-fired Tuesday from an east coast launch pad, citing unnamed South Korean officials.
South Korea's spy chief, Won Sei-hoon, had informed lawmakers earlier Tuesday that North Korea appeared to be preparing to test-fire more missiles, according to Park Young-sun, a legislator who attended the closed-door session.
Pyongyang also test-fired three short-range missiles Monday in the hours after conducting an underground nuclear test in the northeast, Yonhap said.