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Colin Zwirko and Oliver Hotham
Colin Zwirko is a correspondent for NK News. Oliver Hotham is NK News's managing editor.
North Korea has “no intention” to meet U.S. demands for further concessions on the nuclear program, the country’s deputy foreign minister Choe Son Hui told a press conference in Pyongyang on Friday morning.
“We have no intention to make concessions to the U.S. requirements [put forward at the Hanoi summit] in any form, much less the desire to conduct such negotiations,” Choe said in a meeting with foreign ambassadors and press, according to comments carried by Russia’s TASS News Agency, warning that the U.S. risked throwing away “a golden opportunity this time.”
This morning’s meeting was called by foreign diplomats, a source told NK News, who had asked for an update from the DPRK foreign ministry on the ongoing situation.
Choe’s comments come amid broader uncertainty about U.S.-North Korea negotiations over the nuclear issue, following the surprise no-deal conclusion of last month’s summit in Hanoi.
That summit saw the two sides fail to reach an agreement amid North Korean demands for substantive sanctions relief in exchange for what Pyongyang claimed would be the full dismantling of the Yongbyon nuclear facility.
They also echo comments made by Choe in the aftermath of that meeting, in which she told press that she was unsure “whether (we) should continue talks” and that leader Kim Jong Un is “changing his thought a bit” when it came to negotiations with the U.S.
The summit also saw the U.S. reportedly give the North Korean leader a written and expanded American definition of “complete denuclearization.”
That definition, White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said last week, called for the “elimination of their nuclear weapons program,” as well as a decommissioning of Pyongyang’s “chemical and biological weapons… and their ballistic missile program ended as well.”
And amid reports of ongoing activity at North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launch facility, U.S. officials have appeared to harden their position.
U.S. Secretary of State earlier in the week called on North Korea to take more substantive steps towards denuclearization.
“What we’ll need to see is action, and that’s what we’re counting on, and it’s what I’m hopeful we’ll get in the months ahead,” he said.
Vice foreign minister Choe on Friday said the DPRK leader had been surprised by the U.S.’s “eccentric” position in the aftermath of the summit.
“On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission said: ‘For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?’” she said, in comments carried by the AP.
“I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the U.S. will eventually put the situation in danger,” she continued. “We have neither the intention to compromise with the U.S. in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.”
Despite this, Choe said, “personal relations” between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump are “still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful.”
Friday also saw the North Korean vice foreign minister tell journalists and diplomats that DPRK leader Kim Jong Un will “soon” make an announcement regarding his decision on the country’s next move in negotiations with the U.S. and whether to continue an ongoing moratorium on missile and nuclear testing.
One expert said that announcement would likely come at “a party meeting in the run-up to the opening session of the new parliament in early April.”
“Kim Jong Un could announce his position on nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and possibly even how he intends to follow up on his comment in his New Year’s speech about “seeking a new path” if the US continues to exert pressure,” said Minyoung Lee, an analyst at NK Pro.
“For example, North Korea convened a party meeting two days before the parliamentary session in April 2018 where he delivered a “report” on Korean peninsula affairs.”
Featured image: Russian Embassy DPRK