North Korea (search) said the United States was the "world's worst violator" of human rights in an angry reaction to new U.S. legislation aimed at improving human rights in the communist state.

In its first response to the legislation, North Korea said that the North Korean Human Rights Act (search) proves that Washington's intention is to topple its state.

"The U.S. is the world's worst violator of human rights as it is killing innocent civilians including children everyday after illegally igniting a war against Iraq," an unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday. He was quoted by KCNA, the North's official news agency.

The U.S. measure promotes rights in the North, where a dynastic dictatorship has ruled a hunger-stricken populace for over half a century with no tolerance for dissent.

Under the legislation, approved by both houses of Congress and sent to President Bush (search) last week, Washington could spend up to $24 million a year in humanitarian aid for North Koreans, much of it for refugees who have fled their communist state.

International efforts are under way to peacefully resolve a dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons (search) development. However, North Korea is refusing to participate in a new round of six-party talks, citing a "hostile" U.S. foreign policy.