A man in front of a television screen showing US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Seoul on May 16, 2018
Washington is still “hopeful” that next month’s summit between US President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un will be held despite Pyongyang’s threats to cancel everything.
In a striking return to its traditional rhetoric, after months of diplomatic rapprochement on the peninsula, North Korea said Wednesday that the historic meeting would be canceled if Washington sought to force it to unilaterally renounce its nuclear arsenal.
“If the United States tries to put us on the wall to force us to unilateral nuclear renunciation, we would no longer be interested in such a dialogue,” Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan was quoted by the agency as saying. official KCNA, while the summit is scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
Pyongyang also canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea to protest against ongoing annual military exercises between Seoul and Washington, described as “provocative”.
“We are still hopeful that the meeting will be held and we are moving in this direction, but at the same time we were aware that it could be difficult negotiations,” said a few hours later. White House, Sarah Sanders, on Fox News.
Nuclear missile bases and nuclear sites of North Korea
“As the president has said many times, we are ready for this meeting, and if it happens it is fine, otherwise we will advise,” insisted Sarah Sanders promising, in the absence of compromise with Pyongyang, to “continue the current maximum pressure campaign”.
China, North Korea’s closest ally, has called for the summit to be held as planned.
– “sinister attempt” –
Washington demands “the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea. But for now, it has not made public the concessions it proposes, except commitments to the denuclearization of the “Korean Peninsula”, a formula subject to interpretation.
“Pyongyang has repeatedly said that the prerequisite for denuclearization is to end the hostile policy towards North Korea, the nuclear threats and the blackmail of the United States,” the North Korean minister said.
In the past, Pyongyang demanded the withdrawal of US troops deployed to the south to protect Seoul from its neighbor, as well as the end of the US nuclear umbrella over its ally.
The minister also fired on US National Security Advisor John Bolton, who spoke of the “Libyan model” for the denuclearization of the North.
US Chief of Diplomacy Mike Pompeo and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, April 26, 2018 in Pyongyang
This is a “sinister attempt to impose on our worthy state the fate of Libya and Iraq,” he said.
The North has long justified its nuclear weapons by the threat of American invasion. After giving up its atomic program, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising sustained by NATO bombing.
– Reframing the terms of the debate –
Kim also brushed off the proposal by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who has been to Pyongyang twice – that the United States could provide economic aid to North Korea in return for denuclearization
In recent weeks, in addition to a rare summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the peninsula, Kim Jong Un twice met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and announced that he would destroy the week next its nuclear test site.
According to analysts, Pyongyang seeks to reframe the terms of the debate.
“It’s a diplomatic tactic,” Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the National Diplomatic Academy of Korea, told AFP. “It’s the politics of the precipice to change the American position.”
“It seems that Kim Jong Un has been forced to accept the American demands for” + + denuclearization first “and is now trying to change his position after normalizing relations with China.
“The classical diplomacy of North Korea, to walk the tightrope between China and the United States, began,” said the analyst.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (d) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an inter-Korean summit on April 27, 2018 in Panmunjom
US officials have hammered that the US policy of “maximum pressures” on Pyongyang had paid off by forcing him to argue.
For Joshua Pollock of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, the North was irritated by Washington’s “triumphalist” tone.
– Indefinite cancellation –
A few hours earlier, KCNA had called the US-South Korean military drill Max Thunder “an evil and evil provocation.” These current exercises mobilize a hundred aircraft including stealth F22 hunters.
Seoul said it had been notified of the “indefinite” cancellation of the high-level talks scheduled for Wednesday, calling the decision “regrettable”.
Pyongyang has spent years building its nuclear arsenal, leading last year its sixth atomic test, the most powerful to date, and firing missiles capable of reaching the continental United States.
His military ambitions have earned him multiple rounds of UN Security Council sanctions while MM. Trump and Kim exchanged personal insults and bellicose threats.
But the Olympic Winter Games held in South Korea were the catalyst for a dramatic rapprochement, with Moon using the event to orchestrate talks between Washington and Pyongyang.