US dismisses 'basket case' North Korea's 'preposterous' damage claim on war anniversary

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration ridiculed North Korea on Friday for claiming $65 trillion from the United States in Korean War damages, saying the communist nation is an economic "basket case" due its own failed policies.

Marking the 60th anniversary of the start of the conflict, the State Department said North Korea had no one but itself to blame for its isolation and the misery of its people. Spokesman P.J. Crowley called the compensation claim "preposterous" and said the North should abide by agreements to give up nuclear weapons and stop threatening its neighbors.

Amid heightened tensions between North Korea and U.S. ally South Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship, Crowley noted that South Korea was now a democratic and economic powerhouse while North Korea suffers under a dictatorship that has wrecked the national economy.

"The South Korean GDP is now six times that of North Korea, which is, for all intents and purposes, an economic basket case," he told reporters. "We certainly hope that North Korea will look at the exemplary example of development and democracy in South Korea and choose a different course from the one it is currently on."

Crowley said the situation was a "tragedy" for North Koreans and placed the blame squarely on the "behavior of the government of North Korea."

"It is time for North Korea to accept full accountability and responsibility for what has transpired over the past six decades," he said. "Rather than submitting a preposterous bill to the United States of what? ... $65 trillion, as we have said and stressed many, many times there is a choice that is available to North Korea."

North Korea blames the 1950-53 war on the United States and on Thursday said the moneterary cost for North Korean suffering from the conflict amounted to $65 trillion — five times the U.S. national debt.