Sunday, 19 May, 2019

NKorean official: Kim rethinking US talks, launch moratorium

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department on Friday in Washington. — AP Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department on Friday in Washington. — AP
Patty Aguilar | 15 March, 2019, 23:08

Satellite imagery has revealed activity at a North Korea rocket site, though U.S. officials say there's no signs yet that Pyongyang is preparing to restart testing.

She also blamed top US officials for the breakdown of last month's summit in Hanoi, saying the "gangster-like stand of the USA will eventually put the situation in danger", according to Russia's Tass news agency and AP. Despite previously painting the Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam in a positive light, state news agency KCNA said the meeting hadn't gone as well as expected.

North Korea threatened on Friday to suspend negotiations with the US and resume nuclear and missile testing, BBC News reported.

"What is clear is that the US has thrown away a golden opportunity this time", she said. North Korea expert Joshua Pollack said North Korea may be delivering an ultimatum. She said the "gangster-like stand of the USA will eventually put the situation in danger".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he expects North Korea's leader will live up to his commitment not to resume nuclear and missile tests.

Pyongyang favours a more step-by-step approach, with Kim proposing dismantling facilities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for lifting the main sanctions - an offer Trump refused in Hanoi despite the vaunted "chemistry" between the pair.

The reports come after a summit last month in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended without agreement over how best to remove nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula.

Russian Federation and China, which border North Korea, have the relatively closest diplomatic relations with the extremely insular North Korean state.

"We don't know" what Kim will decide to do in the future and that any decision to resume such testing may "very much be his decision, and his decision alone", Biegun said.

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President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Feb. 27, 2019, in Hanoi, Vietnam. "I have every expectation we will be able to continue to do that". But later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton interfered, demanding full denuclearization before any sanctions would be lifted, which the North Koreans found "an absurd sophism".

Choe said that Kim would make a decision "in a short period of time" about whether the regime will continue its "moratorium" on tests of nuclear weapons.

"I'm not sure why the USA came out with this different description", Choe said. "While we haven't made as much progress in the six months as I would've hoped coming in on the first day, we stay closely engaged with our counterparts in North Korea".

Choe issued no direct criticism of the US president and stressed that Trump and Kim have good chemistry.

USA national security adviser John Bolton, who has argued for a tough approach to the North, said last week that Trump was open to more talks but warned of tougher sanctions if Kim did not denuclearise.

The North´s warning came amid concerns over its satellite rocket launch site, where some rebuilding activity has been observed in recent weeks, triggering global alarm that Pyongyang might be preparing a long-range missile or space launch.

Image copyright EPA Image caption North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, seen here during the Hanoi summit What did North Korea say?

US envoy Stephen Biegun has also ruled out doing denuclearization "incrementally", although he insisted on Monday that diplomacy was "still very much alive".

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