In a diplomatic backstep, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has threatened to cancel next month’s meeting if the U.S. insists on “unilateral nuclear abandonment”. What’s behind the sudden change of tone?
CGTN’s Jack Barton reports.
DPRK state media warned on Wednesday that the upcoming summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump could be cancelled over the United States’ demand that Pyongyang destroy all nuclear weapons and irritation over ongoing joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea.
A news reader for the DPRK’s Korean Central Television stated that, “The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned DPRK-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.”
Pyongyang also insisted sanctions should be eased throughout potential negotiations – not at the end.
The warning came only hours after the DPRK abruptly cancelled high-level talks with Seoul, citing the joint war games.
“It is regrettable that the North unilaterally postponed the inter-Korean high-level talks citing the annual South Korea-US joint aerial drills right after it informed us of the date of the talks,” said South Korean Unification Ministry spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun, “as it does not match with the fundamental spirit and purpose of the Panmunjom Declaration agreed on by the two leaders on April 27.”
Following Pyongyang’s second warning, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa spoke on the phone with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Later, South Korea’s foreign ministry indicated the big picture had not fundamentally changed since a press briefing held a few hours earlier in Washington.
“We are operating under the idea and the notion that the president’s meeting is going forward with Chairman, with Chairman Kim next month,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
The D.P.R.K. said it still has high hopes for the talks between Trump and Kim, but has now made its position clear: that denuclearization does not mean giving up its entire nuclear arsenal and that it expects reciprocity for any concessions.
The diplomatic outburst comes roughly a week ahead of Pyongyang’s plans to dismantle its key nuclear test site.