North Korea threatens to cancel Trump summit over US nuke demands

  16 May 2018    Read: 1002
North Korea threatens to cancel Trump summit over US nuke demands

North Korea has threatened to abandon planned talks between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in June if Washington insists on pushing it "into a corner" on nuclear disarmament.

A statement published by the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said North Korea would never accept economic assistance from the US in exchange for unilaterally abandoning its nuclear program.

Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted in the article as saying the US said "it would offer economic compensation and benefit in case we abandon (nuclear weapons)."

"We have never had any expectation of US support in carrying out our economic construction and will not... make such a deal in future," he added.

If the Trump administration was "genuinely committed" to improving ties with Pyongyang, "they will receive a deserving response," Kim Kye Gwan said. "But if they try to push us into a corner and force only unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in that kind of talks and will have to reconsider ... the upcoming summit."

Pyongyang's rhetoric is similar to Trump's own: he said in April that even once parties are at the negotiating table, if talks aren't going the right way, "I will respectfully leave the meeting."

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo early Wednesday morning Seoul time, according to a statement, which quoted Pompeo as saying preparations would continue for the Trump-Kim summit, "keeping in mind this action of the North."

"Minister Kang and Secretary Pompeo agreed to continue close cooperation between South Korea and the United States to achieve a complete denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula," the South Korean statement said.

Adam Mount, a Korea expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said Pyongyang was seeking "to revise the terms of negotiations, not to end them altogether."

"The United States is faced with a critical choice: will it pursue a deal with North Korea that improves US and allied security but falls short of immediate denuclearization? Or will it walk away with nothing?" he added.

Not following the Libya model

The statement referenced comments made by Trump's national security adviser John Bolton about Libya being a potential model for North Korean denuclearization.

In December 2003, after months of negotiations with the US, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to dismantle his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs. Eight years later, after Washington soured on Gadhafi, NATO forces helped overthrow him, and he was later cornered by rebels who beat and abused him before summarily shooting him in the head.

Pyongyang has referenced multiple times in the past its perceived need for a strong nuclear deterrent is based on US military aggression in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Bolton's comments, Kim said, were indicative of "an awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers."

"It is absolutely absurd to dare compare (North Korea), a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development," he added. "(The) world knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met miserable fate."

Singling out the national security adviser for personal criticism, Kim said that North Korea had "shed light on the quality of (John) Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him."

Some analysts suggested that by focusing its statement so much on Bolton, rather than Trump, North Korea could be hoping to pressure the US President into sidelining his national security adviser.

Trump has talked up his achievements with North Korea, even encouraging crowds to chant "Nobel! Nobel!" at rallies.

 

CNN


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