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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea’s state-run media on Tuesday said the Trump administration’s insistence that sanctions relief will only follow the Pyongyang’s denuclearization is the primary “obstacle” to progress in DPRK-U.S. nuclear negotiations, urging Washington to take “trustful measures.”
In a commentary titled “What do ill-boding remarks from the U.S. signify” by an author named Kim Chol Myong, the DPRK state outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) denounced Washington for alleged two-faced behavior.
Recognizing that relations had begun to improve following a meeting early in the month between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang, KCNA said the the U.S.’s “stubborn” position on sanctions showed its continued “hostile policy” against the DPRK.
The editorial condemned comments supporting the maintenance of sanctions on the DPRK from the White House and the State Department, saying the rhetoric ran counter to the DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement signed by U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in June.
“In front it thrust its hand asking for friendship but behind the scene it is making irrelevant remarks,” KCNA said in an English-language version of the editorial. “It is something quite far away from common sense, to say nothing of diplomatic practices.”
Claiming that the DPRK has taken “proactive and preemptive measures” towards denuclearization, the Trump administration’s continued call for maintaining sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang was described as “a contraction and a faulty expression.”
“In fact, the U.S. intent to keep on sanctions means that it would not stop hostile policy. This, in other words, means that it would stop improving relations,” KCNA said. “Hostile policy and reciprocity can not go together.”
The commentary also attacks President Donald Trump, accusing him of having “bragged” about his successes in DPRK-U.S. diplomacy.
“…the U.S. president himself, whenever opportunities presented themselves, bragged that the DPRK does not conduct nuclear tests and ballistic missile launch tests and that he saved millions of lives,” it reads.
The continued adherence by the U.S. to the international sanctions framework suggested to Pyongyang that the country was not sincere in its diplomatic rapprochement with the North, it added.
Two-faced behavior by the U.S., it continued, could result in Washington “destroying the tower” created by Kim Jong Un and President Trump during their summit in Singapore in June.
“It is difficult to advance the DPRK-U.S. negotiations even an inch with an obstacle called sanctions kept on the rail, however loudly the whistle is blown,” it said.
“A new page of the DPRK-U.S. relations can be written only with a soft brush, not with a rough stick.
KCNA emphasized that the U.S. should take corresponding measures in response to the DPRK’s halt of nuclear and missile tests, adding “quite long period had passed” since the country’s last rocket launch.
“It is, therefore, natural for ‘sanctions measures’ taken on that pretexts to disappear accordingly.”
The DPRK media also notably called on the Trump administration to come up with “trustful measures for clearing up the concerns of the DPRK which it is quite well aware of.”
“It is clear that the DPRK-U.S. relations would become such far apart and the settlement of the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula would be such distant.”
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday said the easing of sanctions against North Korea would encourage the country to take steps towards relinquishing its nuclear weapons.
Speaking during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, Moon said the international community could “encourage” the North to pursue denuclearization through sanctions relief.
“Chairman Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to halt nuclear and missile tests and dismantle production facilities and discard all nuclear weapons and materials currently possessed [by the regime] if the U.S. takes corresponding measures,” South Korean Senior Secretary to the President for Public Communication Yoon Young-chan quoted Moon as having said.
“The North’s denuclearization should be accelerated by easing UN sanctions when we can judge that its denuclearization process has at least reached the irreversible stage,” Moon continued, urging President Macron to use France’s position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to facilitate diplomacy.
North Korea has in recent weeks stepped up calls for the international community to lift sanctions.
DPRK foreign minister Ri Yong Ho speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last month suggested that they were the primary obstacle to improving relations.
“The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe dream of the people who are ignorant about us but the problem is that the continued sanctions are continuing our mistrust,” Ri said.
A joint communique issued by China, North Korea, and Russia in Moscow last week, too, called for a “review” of international sanctions – part of wider calls by North Korea’s two closest partners that those measures be relaxed.
Those efforts were also directly referenced in Tuesday’s KCNA editorial.
“…big powers like China and Russia contend that the processes for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the establishment of peace-keeping mechanism should be progressed in a phased and simultaneous way and be accompanied by corresponding actions by countries concerned,” it read.
“The U.S. must lend an ear to the advice of the international community which strongly urges the U.S. to stop the sanctions on the DPRK.”
Featured image: State Department