A South Korean television channel reports on US President Donald Trump (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a Seoul train station on May 16, 2018
North Korea threatened on Wednesday to cancel the planned summit between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump if Washington goes ahead with its demand that Pyongyang unilaterally abandon its nuclear arsenal.
Pyongyang also announced that it canceled high-level talks that were planned between its delegates and those of Seoul on Wednesday because of joint air exercises between the United States and South Korea.
If the US government “corners us and asks us unilaterally to abandon our nuclear weapons we will not have any interest in the talks and we will have to reconsider whether we accept the future summit between North Korea and the United States,” said the deputy foreign minister. Kim Kye Gwan in a statement released by the official agency KCNA.
Washington is pressing for Pyongyang to carry out a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.
At the summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, last month he reaffirmed his commitment to a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
But this phrase is a euphemism open to interpretations.
“We already expressed our desire for a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and we repeatedly declared that the United States should end its hostile policy towards DPRK (the official acronym of North Korea, NDLR) and nuclear threats as a precondition,” he said.
In the past, Pyongyang has called for the withdrawal of US troops stationed in South Korea to protect the country from its neighbor, and an end to the nuclear umbrella that Washington lends to its ally.
The North Korean official also criticized US National Security Advisor John Bolton for his proposal that denuclearization will follow “the Libyan model.”
This was “a sinister move to impose on our worthy state the fate of Libya or Iraq,” he said.
Twitter message from US President Donald Trump on May 10, 2018 when he announced his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
North Korea believes it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself from a potential US invasion.
After giving up his nuclear program, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and died in the revolts supported by NATO.
The vice minister also rejected the offers made to him by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has visited Pyongyang twice in recent weeks, and who on his last trip returned with three Americans who were imprisoned in North Korea, from economic aid to change of denuclearization.
“We have never had any expectation of having US support for our economic construction and we are not going to make this kind of deal in the future,” the official said.
– Tightrope diplomacy –
In recent weeks, in addition to his striking summit with the South Korean leader in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two countries, Kim has met twice with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Pyongyang has announced that it will dismantle the test field. nuclear
Analysts believe Pyongyang now seeks to redefine the terms of the debate.
“It’s a diplomatic tactic,” Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the National Diplomatic Academy of Korea, told AFP, adding that this strategy is a “calculated risk policy”.
“It seems that Kim Jong Un was pushed to accept US demands for ‘denuclearization first’ but is now trying to change his position after normalizing relations between North Korea and China and having secured economic aid,” he added.
“The classic rope-tying diplomacy between the United States and China has begun,” said the expert.
For Joshua Pollack of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, Pyongyang was irritated by the “triumphalist tone”.
“The North Koreans are not happy with what they are seeing and hearing,” he said. “There is still a chasm between the expectations of diplomacy in Pyongyang and Washington DC,” he added.