North Korea slams 'gangster-like' U.S. demands after satisfied Pompeo leaves

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korea accused the United States on Saturday of making “gangster-like” demands in talks over its nuclear program, contradicting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hours after he left saying the old enemies had made progress on key issues.

During a day and a half of talks in Pyongyang, Pompeo had sought to hammer out details on how to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programs, including a timeline.

As he departed, he said he had made progress on “almost all of the central issues,” although work remained to be done.

Hours later, Pyongyang gave a much more negative assessment, saying Washington had broken the spirit of last month’s summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

He said Pompeo’s delegation insisted on unilateral complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, known as CVID. He argued instead for both sides to take a series of simultaneous steps as a “shortcut” to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

“The high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.”

There was no immediate comment on the KCNA statement from the State Department or the White House. The contrasting comments raised questions over whether North Korea is committed to abandoning the nuclear programs it has developed for decades and has seen as key to its survival.

Sponsored

‘LIKE A ROBBER’

Trump and Kim pledged at their June 12 summit meeting in Singapore to move toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Trump has declared on Twitter that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.

But Kim has yet to provide details of how or when North Korea might dismantle a weapons program that Trump has vowed will not be allowed to threaten the United States. Also, leaked U.S. intelligence findings concluded North Korea does not intend to completely give up its nuclear program.

On Saturday, Pompeo said he spent “a good deal of time” in the latest talks discussing a denuclearization timeline and the declaration of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities.

“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done,” he said, according to a pool report from U.S. reporters who accompanied him to Pyongyang.

“The North Koreans are in the game to get, not to give,” said Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia until last year.

“They have gotten the U.S. to back off military exercises, back off using ‘CVID’, back off the ‘Libya model’ of rapid denuclearization, back off on human rights, and to look the other way while China relaxes sanctions implementation. So why wouldn’t Kim Jong Un dig in his heels with Pompeo and press his advantage?”

Abraham Denmark, a senior defense official for East Asia under former President Barack Obama, said: “This is a rejection of U.S. demands for unilateral denuclearization by North Korea, and a clear message that the U.S. will need to give up more to make progress.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo had been “very firm” on three basic goals: complete denuclearization of North Korea, security assurances and repatriation of remains of Americans killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Pompeo said the two sides agreed to hold discussions on July 12 on repatriation, and also discussed “modalities” for destruction of a missile engine testing facility.

KCNA said the North also offered to discuss declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War marking next month’s anniversary of the armistice agreement, but the U.S. side showed little interest, giving “certain conditions and excuses.”

Nauert said the July 12 meeting, along the border between North and South Korea, would be at working level and involve U.S. Defense Department officials.

Pompeo did not meet Kim as he had done on two previous visits to North Korea this year, but handed over a letter to him from Trump.

A letter from Kim to Trump was also delivered to Pompeo through Kim Yong Chol, a top North Korean party official and former spy agency chief, who was Pompeo’s interlocutor and played a key role in arranging the Singapore summit.

In the letter, Kim Jong Un expressed his “expectation and conviction” that future dialogue would further consolidate the sentiments of good faith between the two leaders, KCNA said.

“We still cherish our good faith in President Trump,” the spokesman said.

‘EQUALLY COMMITTED’

Asked about reports based on U.S. intelligence assessments that North Korea had continued to develop its nuclear facilities even while engaging in dialogue, Pompeo said:

“We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it’s the case that we can get our arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

“Chairman Kim is ... still committed” to that goal, Pompeo said, and he reiterated that Trump was “committed to a brighter future for North Korea”.

The U.S.-North Korea talks are being closely watched across Asia. Pompeo is due to meet in Tokyo on Sunday with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Some U.S. experts on North Korea said the ongoing disputes show the risk of Washington granting premature concessions to Pyongyang. Many were surprised when Trump agreed at the summit in Singapore to end joint military exercises with South Korea.

  • Published in World

US And South Korea To Suspend Training Exercises Indefinitely

Washington:  The United States and South Korea have agreed to indefinitely suspend two exchange program training exercises, the Pentagon said on Friday, in the aftermath of the summit earlier this month between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"To support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit, and in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, Secretary Mattis has indefinitely suspended select exercises," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

"This includes suspending FREEDOM GUARDIAN along with two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to occur in the next three months," White said.

Regarding suspension of the exercises, South Korea's defense ministry said, "South Korea and the U.S. decided to delay two of KMEP (drills) indefinitely, which was going to take place within the next three months.

"This is a part of follow-up measures after the North Korea-U.S. summit and South Korea-North Korea summit. There could be additional measures should North Korea follow suit with productive cooperation."

At a news conference after the meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump announced that he would halt what he called "very provocative" and expensive regular military exercises that the United States holds with South Korea. North Korea had long sought an end to the war games.

This week, the United States and South Korea said they were suspending planning for August's Freedom Guardian exercise.

Last year, 17,500 American troops and more than 50,000 South Korean troops joined the Freedom Guardian drills, although the exercise is mostly focused on computerized simulations rather than field exercises.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, played down the significance of suspending the Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises, saying they were relatively minor.

Jim Mattis met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Trump's national security adviser John Bolton on Friday, White said.

"In support of upcoming diplomatic negotiations led by Secretary Pompeo, additional decisions will depend upon the DPRK continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith," she added, referring to North Korea.

Every spring, the United States and South Korea conduct Foal Eagle and Max Thunder drills, both of which wrapped up in May.

The decision to halt military exercises with South Korea baffled allies, military officials and lawmakers. The drills help keep U.S. forces at a state of readiness in one of the world's most tense flashpoints.

At the Singapore talks, North Korea also agreed to allow the recovery of the remains of soldiers who went missing in action during the Korean War.

On Saturday, the U.S. military began moving caskets to North Korea for the recovery of some remains, the U.N. Command in South Korea said in a statement.

  • Published in World

Iran nuclear deal collapse could spell grave consequences for the Korean peninsula – Lavrov

The potential collapse of the nuclear deal with Iran could set a dangerous precedent and will have serious consequences for the tense standoff on the Korean peninsula, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned.

Tensions between North Korea and the international community have steadily been rising over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. An already volatile situation has been further inflamed by hostile rhetoric and military provocations from both North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.

The case with Iran, whose own nuclear program is likewise viewed with suspicion by the US, has been soothed, so far, by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – agreed to in 2015 by Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the so-called P5+1.

 
Morteza Nikoubazl ©

"It is evident that the failure of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, especially through the fault of one of the participants in the P5+1 group, will become an alarming signal for the whole architecture of international security, including prospects for the settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula," Lavrov said before a meeting of the UN Security Council. Russia's Foreign Minister underlined that scrapping JCPOA will undermine any deal made with Pyongyang.

Last week, Trump announced that he would waive the economic sanctions on Iran, lifted under the JCPOA agreement, which sees Tehran scale back its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions. He warned America’s European allies, however, that Washington could still pull out of the agreement if its terms were not met. Trump previously referred to JCPOA as the “worst deal ever.”

At the UN, Lavrov reiterated the importance of seeking a peaceful solution to the Korean crisis. He again put forward the “double-freeze” strategy proposed by Russia and China, in which the US and its allies cease major military exercises in the region in exchange for Pyongyang suspending its nuclear and ballistic missile program.
"We reaffirm the relevance of the road map proposed by Russia and China in the interests of an exclusively peaceful settlement of this problem," he said.

Washington has consistently rejected the plan. It did so again at a joint summit with Canada this week, proposing more sanctions on Pyongyang instead. In an interview with Reuters Wednesday, Trump said military action is still very much an option.

  • Published in World

‘Shrewd & mature N. Korean leader has won this round' – Putin on peninsula crisis

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has emerged a winner in the latest crisis around the Korean Peninsula, Russian president Vladimir Putin said. He believes Pyongyang is now trying to defuse tensions.

I believe, Mr Kim Jong-un has certainly won this round,” Putin told journalists at a meeting with the Russian media. He said North Korea has achieved its strategic goal.

 
Ri Son Gwon exchanges documents with Cho Myoung-gyon, January 9, 2018.  © Yonhap

“He has a nuclear [charge] and a … missile with a range of up to 13,000 kilometers that can reach almost any place on Earth or at least any territory of his potential adversary,” Putin told journalists on Thursday. The Russian president said the North Korean leader is likely to be seeking an easing of tensions in the region.

“He is already an absolutely shrewd and mature politician,” Putin added.

The latest crisis around the Korean Peninsula broke out in September 2017 after Pyongyang claimed it had conducted a hydrogen bomb test. The US responded to North Korean actions by flexing its muscles and conducting a number of military drills in the region with its allies South Korea and Japan. North Korea replied to this saber-rattling by conducting several missile tests, including one, according to Pyongyang, involving an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Both Pyongyang and Washington, along with its allies, added further fuel to the fire by issuing repeated threats against one another. US President Donald Trump repeatedly said the US could use a “military option” in dealing with the crisis and even threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” during the annual General Debate of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. More recently Trump said in a Twitter post that his “nuclear button” is “bigger and more powerful.”

Russia and China, by contrast, have called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis from from the outset. Moscow and Beijing put forward a “double freeze” initiative that envisaged the US and its allies halting all major military exercises in the region in exchange for Pyongyang suspending its nuclear and ballistic missile program. The initiative was, however, turned down by Washington.

 
Head of North Korean delegation, Ri Son Gwon, is greeted by a South Korean official as he crosses a concrete border to attend their meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, January 9, 2018. © Korea Pool

Russia also repeatedly called on all parties involved in the Korean crisis to “break the vicious cycle of confrontation, reckless schemes and sanctions” and engage into a meaningful dialog instead. In December, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said North Korea wants to engage in a direct dialog with the US to assure its security, adding that Russia could help with these talks.

In January, Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to hold high-level bilateral talks to discuss the North’s potential participation in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, as well as other issues related to improving relations. The move followed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year message, in which he wished success for the 2018 Olympics.

During the talks held on January 9, the two sides agreed on the participation of North Korean athletes in the South Korean Olympics. They also discussed the potential reunification of families separated by the Korean War. In a significant breakthrough, the two Koreas agreed on talks between army officials in order to avoid dangerous military incidents.

Pyongyang’s chief negotiator, however said there was no need to discuss the North Korean nuclear program because all its weapons “are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, nor China and Russia.” Trump meanwhile has claimed it was his aggressive stance that made the negotiations between two Koreas possible.

  • Published in World

North Korea Warns of a Hydrogen Bomb Test amid US Threats

A senior North Korean officials warned of “the most powerful detonation” of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific if the country felt hostility from the United States.

A senior North Korean diplomat warned that the United States could witness a hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean unless discussion of military intervention ceased.

RELATED:  US Reps Pass "Harshest Sanctions Ever" Against North Korea

This latest development comes amid joint U.S.-South Korea war games and a heavy navy presence in the Pacific ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the region. Trump’s visit is expected to solidify regional commitments to security against North Korea, which the U.S. sees as a threat.

During a session of the United Nations General Assembly last month, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said that Pyongyang would conduct “the most powerful detonation” of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific if the country felt hostility.

“The foreign minister is very well aware of the intentions of our supreme leader, so I think you should take his words literally,” said Ri Yong Pil, a senior diplomat in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, to CNN, warning that North Korea “has always brought its words into action.”

Members of the international community, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, have accused the U.S. of stoking nuclear tensions through decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, despite no evidence of noncompliance, and aggression against North Korea.

https://imgs.openmultimedia.biz/640x480/clips/imagen-2017-05-10-093830211252-658571.png

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the ‘The Otto Warmbier North Korea Nuclear Sanctions Act’ that would level the “harshest sanctions ever” against North Korea. The sanctions would also target international business partners of North Korea, most importantly China, if signed into law.

President Trump has also coupled sanctions with threatening words.

“You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be,” Trump said in a FOX News interview. “Would it be nice not to do that (military intervention)? The answer is yes.”

Trump, in a conference with top military officials, called present tensions “the calm before the storm.”

“The U.S. is talking about a military option and even practicing military moves. They’re pressuring us on all fronts with sanctions. If you think this will lead to diplomacy, you’re deeply mistaken,” Ri said.

The U.S. has bolstered its military presence around the Korean peninsula since the war of words began. The U.S. military has also put nuclear-capable B-52 bombers on a 24-hour alert, which has not happened since the end of the Cold War.

RELATED:  Russia 'Opposes' Latest Massive US-Led War Games in Waters off Korea, Japan

“The joint military exercises conducted by the U.S. one after another all the year round on the Korean peninsula are clearly aggressive war exercises in their nature and scale,” Ja Song-nam, North Korea's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said in a letter to Francois Delattre, the current President of the United Nations Security Council.

“No other country in the world than the DPRK (North Korea) has ever been subjected to such an extreme and direct nuclear threat from the U.S. for such a long time and witnessed on its door such nuclear war exercises which are the most vicious and ferocious in their scale, style, aim and essence,” the letter continued.

With building tensions, the international community has encouraged dialogue between both sides. China introduced a “double freeze” tactic, identical to previous North Korean proposals, that would see North Korea end its nuclear program in exchange for promises by the U.S. to end hostility. The U.S. denied this plan as it has done in the past.

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed