North Korea’s foreign minister on Friday said the country’s leadership will never again offer the U.S. major concessions without receiving anything in return, promising instead to focus on the development of a “national nuclear war deterrent” aimed at countering growing military tensions.
In a statement released to mark the two-year anniversary of DPRK leader Kim Jong Un’s first summit with President Trump, Ri Son Gwon said that little had changed since that meeting and that relations between the two countries remained poor.
“The hope for improved DPRK-U.S. relations – which was high in the air under the global spotlight two years ago – has now been shifted into despair,” he said. “Even a slim ray of optimism for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula has faded away into a dark nightmare.”
Citing a laundry list of alleged concessions granted by the North Koreans over the two years, including “a total shutdown of the northern nuclear test site” — likely a reference to the DPRK’s May 2018 dismantling of the nuclear testing ground at Punggye-ri –– Ri accused the U.S. of “empty promises.”
“In retrospect, all the practices of the present U.S. administration so far are nothing but accumulating its political achievements,” he said. “Never again will we provide the U.S. chief executive with another package to be used for achievements without receiving any returns.”
Instead, the foreign minister said, North Korea will now turn its attention to military developments and the country’s “national nuclear war deterrent” — an order first handed down by leader Kim Jong Un at December’s meeting of the DPRK’s Central Military Commission (CMC).
“Whenever Pompeo and other U.S. statesmen open their mouths, they make nonsensical remarks that the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is still a secure goal of the United States,” he said.
“The secure strategic goal of the DPRK is to build up more reliable force to cope with the long-term military threats from the U.S.”
One analyst said the statement served to reiterate North Korea’s goals laid out late last year.
“Ri Son Gwon’s press statement puts in more explicit terms Kim Jong Un’s December party plenum speech and the latest Central Military Commission meeting readout,” Minyoung Lee,
“North Korea will continue to pursue its nuclear weapons and longer-range missile programs,”
Ri’s remarks come amid a marked escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula and growing North Korean invective against the U.S. and South Korea, prompted in part by tensions over activists in the South launching balloons filled with anti-regime materials into the DPRK.
A statement from the country’s foreign ministry on Thursday warned the U.S. not to meddle in that dispute, threatening “horrible” consequences if it did.
Given these tensions, one expert said, as well as a recent pause in short-range missile launches by North Korea, Pyongyang may have more ambitious plans for its next test.
“It’s notable that the short-range ballistic missile testing has basically wound down at this point and that this has also coincided with the generally acerbic messaging out of Pyongyang on inter-Korean ties and now U.S. ties,” Ankit Panda, an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, told NK News.
“So that leaves one path ahead: bigger missiles,” he continued.
The U.S. State Department declined to comment.
Edited by Chad O’Carroll
North Korea's foreign minister on Friday said the country's leadership will never again offer the U.S. major concessions without receiving anything in return, promising instead to focus on the development of a "national nuclear war deterrent" aimed at countering growing military tensions.
In a statement released to mark the two-year anniversary of DPRK leader Kim Jong Un's first summit with President Trump, Ri Son Gwon said that little had changed since that meeting and that relations between the two countries remained poor.