A North Korean official has for the first time since the Singapore summit mooted the idea of Pyongyang resuming overt nuclear development, a statement published by official state media showed on Friday.
Responding to Washington’s ongoing public aversion to North Korea sanctions relief, a director of the foreign ministry-linked Institute for American Studies warned that Pyongyang may reconsider Kim Jong Un’s April 2018 directive to focus solely on economic development.
“If the U.S. keeps behaving arrogant without showing any change in its stand…the word “pyongjin” (simultaneously conducting economic construction and building up nuclear forces) may appear again and the change of the line could be seriously reconsidered,” director Kwon Jong Gun said in the KCNA-distributed statement.
“It is worth recalling that such view has already begun to appear in the DPRK,” the director added, a possible reference to growing sentiment there about the nature of ongoing diplomacy with the U.S.
In particular, Washington’s ongoing sanctions designations on “objects supposed to have relations with the DPRK” and “pressure” on Seoul to slow down inter-Korean cooperation was “incompatible” with Singapore summit pledges to improve U.S.-DPRK trust and ties, the director argued.
Unless the U.S. offers a “corresponding reply” to recent “proactive and good-will measures” gestures – a likely reference to North Korea’s continued long-range missile and nuclear test moratorium and partial steps to disable the Sohae missile engine test stand – “the DPRK will not move even 1 mm (further)”.
And taking issue with American claims that “key to the improvement of DPRK-U.S. relations lies in denuclearization,” Kwon said that “”rare spectacles” should have been witnessed (between the two countries) before the DPRK began nuclear development.”
North Korean discontent with Washington’s stance that sanctions relief can only follow full denuclearization has been growing in recent weeks, with articles emerging in DPRK state media complaining in October of a two-faced American approach and “ill-boding remarks” by U.S. officials.
One of the articles was notable for complaining about Trump’s own position on the issue by name, representing the first negative casting of the American president on U.S.-DPRK diplomacy since the Singapore summit took place.
Growing tension on the issue of sanctions relief comes ahead of a planned meeting between the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterpart next week, confirmed in his interview with Fox News on Friday.
Pompeo didn’t confirm a location or date for the meeting, he previously told the Voice of America it would take place “here” – a likely reference to the U.S. mainland.
While Pyongyang believes its concessions and efforts to improve relations with the U.S. have not been properly recognized, Washington believes insufficient steps have been taken on the core issue – denuclearization – to justify any amendments to the contemporary sanctions regime.
“The U.S. effort to maintain sanction implementation is for the express desire for peace and prosperity, which as President Trump clearly stated will follow denuclearization, and the sooner we get to that point the sooner we can lift sanctions,” a U.S. State Department official told NK News about its sanctions policy on Wednesday.
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