North Korea Says Trump’s ‘Empty Promise’ Dashes Hopes for Deal
North Korea accused the U.S. of breaking promises it made at a historic summit two years ago, saying the Trump administration had turned dreams for peace into “a dark nightmare” and dashed hopes for denuclearization.
Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon said in a message to mark the second anniversary of the then-unprecedented June 12, 2018, meeting between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that the U.S. had broken its word, adding that North Korea saw no benefit in engaging with Washington.
“Nothing is more hypocritical than an empty promise,” Ri was quoted as saying in a Friday report from the official Korean Central News Agency. He added the U.S. has shown over the past two years that it’s aiming for the “isolation and suffocation” of North Korea.
North Korea’s ultimate goal is to build up a more “reliable force” to achieve a full deterrence capability from “the long-term military threats” from Washington, Ri said. The comments come as leader Kim started the year by threatening to deploy a new strategic weapon, escalating tension after refraining from tests of nuclear weapons and missiles that could deliver a warhead to the U.S. to give diplomacy with Trump a chance.
U.S. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment but the State Department earlier in the week urged North Korea to return to the bargaining table. The North Korean foreign minister blasted Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and others in the Trump administration for making “nonsensical remarks that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is still a secure goal of the United States.”
North Korea has celebrated what it sees as a “special chemistry” between Trump and Kim. But in March, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the leader,cautioned that the state of affairs “should not be judged in haste in the light of the personal relations between the two top leaders, and furthermore, neither predictions nor expectations should be made based on them.”
Kim Jong Un has given little indication that he is willing to make any sort of deal that could be seen as a diplomatic win for Trump, helping him as he faces re-election this year.
The North Korean leader been able to poke holes in the sanctions regime through internet crime and the illicit trade in goods in ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas, according to United Nations Security Councilreports. He has also rolled out new, short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missiles designed to avoid U.S. interceptors and strike all of South Korea, where about 28,500 American service personnel are stationed.
The first summit resulted in a bare-bones declaration that contained four main items: To normalize ties between the U.S. and North Korea, formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, repatriate U.S. war remains and — crucially — “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
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Even though Trump and Kim have met twice since then, the two sides remain far apart and still have not come to agreement on what they mean by denuclearization. Trump has insisted that Kim give up nuclear weapons before easing up on sanctions squeezing the state’s anemic economy, while North Korea has called for steps it takes toward disarmament to be met with rewards.
North Korea often says its nuclear arsenal protects it from a U.S. invasion and Pyongyang’s leaders see giving up the weapons as political suicide. Kim has bolstered his atomic arsenal while nuclear diplomacy has sputtered, producing enoughfissile material for at least a dozen bombs and making more missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland, weapons experts have said.
Meanwhile, North Korea has ramped up tensions with South Korea. This week, it cut off communication links set up two years ago with its neighbor, which it accused of allowing hostile acts by failing to prevent activists from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border by using balloons.
Millions of leaflets sent by South Korean activists and defectors from North Korea have flown across the border for more than a decade bearing messages critical of North Korea’s leaders, fueling friction between the rivals.
Leaflets that raise questions about the leader’s grip on power have tended to draw some of the sharpest rebukes from Pyongyang over the years. The latest leaflets came after Kim Jong Un has made fewer public appearances over the past several weeks than normal, leading to global speculation about his health.
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