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North Korea threatens to end denuclearization talks with ‘gangster-like’ US

On June 12, 2018, in Singapore, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands after signing an agreement at the Capella Hotel. (Ministry of Communications Singapore/Zuma Press/TNS)
March 15, 2019

North Korea is threatening to back out of denuclearization talks with the United States amid reports that they’re preparing for a missile launch.

A top North Korean official said that Kim Jong Un is considering the future of the denuclearization talks with the U.S., and he will soon announce whether or not North Korea will continue.

“I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the U.S. will eventually put the situation in danger,” said North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. “We have neither the intention to compromise with the U.S. in any form, nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.”

Choe argued that the U.S. was being too restrictive in their demands and unwilling to compromise with North Korea. She noted that North Korea has ceased missile testing activities since Nov. 2017 and the U.S. should yield concessions in light of their good faith.

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The news comes amid conflicting reports that North Korea is “committed” to denuclearizing, but is also preparing for a missile launch.

This week, two North Korean media outlets published articles written by a North Korean Foreign Ministry official which said Kim Jong Un had decided to continue “productive dialogues” in an effort to achieve full denuclearization for a peaceful regime.

However, last week, reports revealed recent satellite images showing that North Korea’s top long-range ballistic missile development complex was undergoing rebuilding efforts, while yet another facility indicated potential rocket-building activities.

The South Korean Defense Ministry said this week that North Korea’s rocket launch facility, Dongchang-ri, is nearly complete, although it’s functionality could not yet be confirmed, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Affairs, said the U.S. will not agree to incremental denuclearization.

“Our goal, our objective is the final fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,” he said, adding that Trump asked for quick action, despite North Korea’s desire to move gradually. “Let’s go for a big proposal here to eliminate these weapons of mass destruction programs,” Biegun said of Trump’s strategy.

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Trump and Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam for a two-day summit last week, which came to an abrupt end without a deal, despite anticipation of a possible end-of-war declaration for the Korean War or a clear path toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump later told reporters that the meeting ended because of disagreements over sanctions.

“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” Trump said. “Sometimes you have to walk, and this was one of those times.”