On Friday, North Korea signaled a new strategic goal of building its forces to counter the U.S.
North Korea deliberately chose the second anniversary of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to indicate North Korea would no longer pursue denuclearization with the U.S. but instead develop forces to counter the U.S. in the region. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon delivered the announcement in comments obtained by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
“The secure strategic goal of the DPRK is to build up more reliable force to cope with the long-term military threats from the U.S. This is our reply message to the U.S. on the occasion of second anniversary of June 12,” Ri said in a statement first broadcast through the official Korean Central News Agency.
Trump and Kim began their first diplomatic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
It was not clear from Ri’s comments exactly what forces North Korea would build upon to counter the U.S., however Ri vowed that North Korea would “never again” provide the U.S. with “another package” of diplomatic improvements that Trump could tout as a political victory.
“What stands out is that the hope for improved DPRK-U.S. relations — which was high in the air under the global spotlight two years ago — has now been shifted into despair,” Ri added.
Ri indicated talks between North Korea and the U.S. had hit a stalemate since the last round of formal talks between Kim and Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam in February 2019. He accused U.S. officials of merely pursuing peace discussions as a symbol of “political achievement” without offering substantive policy proposals.
“The question is whether there will be a need to keep holding hands shaken in Singapore, as we see that there is nothing of factual improvement to be made in the DPRK-U.S. relations,” Ri continued.
The Hanoi meeting reportedly failed over disagreements on sanctions. Trump said he was not willing to ease sanctions against North Korea until Kim made stronger commitments to denuclearization.
“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” Trump said at the time.
Following the disagreement in Hanoi, talks between the U.S. and North Korea stalled. North Korea went on to impose a 2019 year end deadline for the U.S. to make a deal and began conducting new weapons tests.
In the final days of 2019, Kim also signaled changes in North Korea’s military posture as the year 2019 came to a close.
Since the start of 2020, the country has conducted a number of additional weapons tests.
“The U.S. administration, through the two years of totally unjust and anachronistic practices, laid bare openly that its much-claimed improvement of relations between the DPRK and U.S. means nothing but a regime change, security guarantee an all-out preemptive nuclear strike, and confidence building an invariable pursuit of isolation and suffocation of the DPRK,” Ri said in his Friday remarks.
“All the above facts clearly prove once again that, unless the 70-plus-year deep-rooted hostile policy of the U.S. towards the DPRK is fundamentally terminated, the U.S. will as ever remain to be a long-term threat to our state, our system and our people.”