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Nikki Haley: North Korea ‘maybe changing their mind’ on denuclearization

Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, voting at the Security Council September 11, 2017. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS)
August 31, 2018

With the lack of progress on denuclearization talks with North Korea, some U.S. officials are left wondering if North Korea will move forward at all.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley recently made remarks on whether North Korea is rethinking their pledge to denuclearize, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.

“Are they wishing or maybe changing their mind on denuclearization?” she said. “It’s possible. But we’re not going to change our mind on the sanctions.”

Her remarks come amid a string of others that indicate denuclearization negotiations with North Korea are at a stalemate. North Korea doesn’t want to make additional concessions until sanctions are lifted, something the U.S. won’t budge on.

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“We knew this was going to be a slow, tough process,” she said.

President Trump recently announced the cancelation of a meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials over the lack of progress. The cancelation took place just one day after Pompeo announced the trip.

Plans were reportedly changed over a “belligerent letter” received from North Korea.

“Pompeo received the letter from Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, on Friday morning, and showed it to Trump in the White House, two senior administration officials confirmed,” Josh Rogin of the Washington Post reported.

“The exact contents of the message are unclear, but it was sufficiently belligerent that Trump and Pompeo decided to call off Pompeo’s journey, where he was set to introduce his newly announced special envoy, Stephen Biegun, to his North Korean counterparts,” he added.

Pompeo himself has called North Korea’s efforts “inconsistent” with their pledge to denuclearize, and has repeatedly said the country is continuing their nuclear production.

In a statement read by spokesperson Heather Nauert, Pompeo said: “America stands ready to engage when it is clear that Chairman Kim stands ready to deliver on the commitments that he made at the Singapore summit to President Trump to completely denuclearize North Korea.”

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North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said recently:  “It is essential for both sides to take simultaneous actions and phased steps to do what is possible one after another.”

“Only when the U.S. ensures that we feel comfortable with and come close to it, will we be able to open our minds to the U.S. and show it inaction,” he added.

However, Haley reaffirmed that the U.S. is happy with the sanctions, and they’re not going anywhere.

“The positive is that we have sanctions that basically cut off 90 percent of their trade, 30 percent of their oil, and we’re holding tight on those sanctions,” she said. “I mean, if you look at cutting off 90 percent of trade, 30 percent of oil; stopping their foreign laborers from working; stopping all foreign investment. Literally all the money they use to build their intercontinental ballistic missiles is gone.”

“The good thing I can tell you is we haven’t had to deal with ballistic missile testing in months,” Haley added. “So the positive is we’re now talking. The positive is we’re not dealing with ballistic missile tests.”