North Korea threatened Sunday to withdraw from denuclearization talks “forever” over fresh sanctions imposed by the U.S.
Pyongyang claimed the White House had “slandered” Kim Jong Un’s regime “out of sheer malice”, and fabricated charges of money-laundering, cyberattacks and ship-to-ship transfers of fuel in order to impose the new restrictions on regime officials.
A statement, credited to the policy research director of the Institute for American Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and carried by the state-run news agency, said U.S. State Department officials had miscalculated if they thought slapping new sanctions would “drive us into giving up nuclear weapons.”
“It will block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever — a result desired by no one,” the regime warned, adding that U.S. actions could regress relations to 2017, “which was marked by exchanges of fire.”
The warning came after three top Kim aides were sanctioned last week by the U.S. Treasury Department, citing serious human rights abuses and censorship.
North Korea’s statement stands in contrast to recent comments by Trump, who said last week that he was “in no hurry” to conclude negotiations with North Korea, adding that “Kim Jong Un sees it better than anyone and will fully take advantage of it for his people. We are doing just fine!”
In reality, there has been no movement since Trump and Kim met in Singapore in June, when the U.S. president declared the North Korean nuclear crisis “largely solved.”
“The talks have been stalled effectively since June, when the two leaders met,” John Hemmings, Asia Director at the Henry Jackson Society, a British foreign policy think tank, told VICE News. “While the North Koreans have offered some token offers to the U.S., they have not really offered a plan for how things might proceed. The Trump administration's efforts to help develop a plan have been met with Pyongyang's fury.”
The problem is that neither side wants to make the first move.
The U.S. is demanding a full declaration of North Korea’s nuclear assets for future inspections, but North Korea says it won’t do anything until the U.S. eases crippling economic sanctions against the country.
“The issue here is lack of mutual trust,” Baohui Zhang, director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, told VICE News. “Both sides say the other party should take a big first move to prove its sincerity. This quagmire is caused by fear that the other party may cheat and will not reciprocate their own measures.”
Cover images: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Paekhwawon State Guesthouse on September 19, 2018 in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images)