North Korea Warns US Sanctions Could Derail Denuclearization

The United States Department of Treasury's sanctions on North Korean figureheads could 'block' denuclearization efforts, says Pyongyang. 

The United States has recently imposed sanctions on senior North Korean regime figures which have prompted the Asian country to decry a “deliberate provocation” which could block denuclearization efforts.

RELATED: Seoul Train Crosses DMZ With Experts to Update North's Rail

During the last six months, North Korea and the United States have been holding talks with the purpose of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean nation.

The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, and the President of the United States, Donald Trump, have had a rocky relationship ever since the U.S. leader assumed office in 2016. They have both attacked each other and exchanged pleasantries in the public realm, at different times.

The decision to impose sanctions on the three North Korean figureheads came from the US treasury department.

Pyongyang manifested its reproach to this action saying it could “block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever.”

Moreover, the regime stated that if relations are to improve between both nations, then each needs to take gradual measures to promote this process, “We have been proposing that the DPRK-US relations be improved on a step-by-step approach.”

However, there is concern that the opposite is taking place after the department of treasury’s actions, which have been interpreted as “bent on bringing DPRK-US relations back to the status of last year which was marked by exchanges of fire,” the policy research director of the North Korean foreign ministry, stated.

By exchanges of fire, the spokesman refers not to actual direct confrontation but to the series of missile tests conducted by North Korea and the verbal exchanges which took place between both leaders, in the recent past.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was supposed to meet his counterpart Yong-chol to further discuss relations between both countries in November. The meeting did not take place and it has not been rescheduled thus far.

The sanctions on North Korea come at a time when the United States government is holding negotiations with China to end the tariff-war which has been ongoing for several months. The process was put in suspense as the U.S. government orchestrated the detention of Huawei’s CFO on grounds of violating sanctions against Iran through the company’s business dealings.

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Cuban President confirms new North Korean ambassador in Havana ceremony

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Wednesday accepted the credentials of incoming North Korean ambassador Ma Chol Su in a ceremony in Havana, local state news outlet Prensa Latina reported.

Ma, who was appointed to the position of ambassador to Cuba by the DPRK’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly last month, replaces Pak Chang Yul.

The new ambassador begins work just weeks after a landmark summit between the two countries earlier in the month – the first of its kind in over 30 years.

That meeting saw the Cuban President and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un reaffirm the two countries’ “special friendship” and agree to expand scientific and economic cooperation.

Ma has extensive experience in working with North Korea’s longtime allies and as a liaison between Pyongyang and other sympathetic nations and individuals.

2017 saw Ma visit Cambodia in his capacity as a Workers’ Party official responsible for international affairs, where he met with Prince Norodom Ranariddh and discussed building ties between their two political parties.

An ambassador to Vietnam from 2006-10, he most recently served as Secretary-General of the DPRK-Japan Friendship Association, overseeing sports exchanges between the two countries and a visit in 2014 by former professional wrestler and current member of Japan’s House of Councillors Antonio Inoki.

His appointment as ambassador sees him take over responsibility for one of North Korea’s most important diplomatic relationships, with the embassy in Havana reportedly critical in conducting arms deals and other illicit transactions between the two, including in the now-notorious Chong Chon Gang incident.

It also comes as Pyongyang seeks to improve ties in the region, with the country’s nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam set to visit the region this week.

North Korean state media on Sunday reported that Kim, who serves as President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, would soon pay an official visit to Cuba and to Venezuela, as well as attend the inauguration of Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Saturday.

Kim was spotted by South Korean press at Beijing Capital Airport on Tuesday, presumed to en route to Latin America.

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North Korea Conducts New Weapon Test, South Destroys Guard Post

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon reassured that Seoul would not pursue economic cooperation with Pyongyang until “significant progress” has been made on denuclearization. 

North Korean President Kim Jong-un inspected and successfully tested a newly developed tactical weapon, the country’s state media said. The Korean Central News Agency did not specify the exact type of weapon or when the test occurred.

RELATED: Cuba’s Diaz-Canel Meets North Korean Kim Jong-un

"This result today is a justification of the party's policy focused on defence, science and technology, another display of our rapidly growing defence capabilities to the whole region, and a ground-breaking change in strengthening our military's combat capabilities," the KCNA report said.

“After seeing the power of the tactical weapon, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un was so excited to say that another great work was done by the defence scientists and munitions industrial workers to increase the defence capability of the country." 

An analyst from Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Shin Beomchul, noted that “it’s a North Korea-style coercive diplomacy. North Korea is saying ‘if you don’t listen to us, you will face political burdens,” said analyst.

Recently, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon reassured that Seoul would not pursue economic cooperation with Pyongyang until “significant progress” has been made on denuclearization. Cho made the remark Thursday during a visit to Washington, also adding that improving inter-Korean relation would help, not hinder the process.

However, on Thursday, South Korea advanced the hope for a unified peninsula by destroying guard posts near the border with North Korea, in accordance with an agreement made by the two states. Smoke billowed into the sky signaling that a contained explosion, by the South, had initiated the pledge to destroy guard posts.

Seoul invited journalists to observe the action which fulfilled a pledge made when the neighbors signed a unification pact, in September. The Koreas agreed to dismantle or disarm nearly one dozen guard posts, each.

Last week, the two Koreas withdrew troops and firearms from some of the guard posts - which are located in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) - along the shared border, prior to conducting the demolition.

According to reports, South Korea had about 60 posts inside the DMZ, while The North was an estimated 160. There are an estimated 2 million landmines planted in and near the zone.

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Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez Visits Kumsusan Palace of Sun

Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez, president of the Council of State and president of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on Monday.

The members of the Cuban delegation were accompanied by Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee, Ri Yong Ho, member of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee and foreign minister, accompanied the Cuban president and his entourage.

A floral basket in name of the Republic of Cuba was laid before the statues of President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il.

Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez paid respects to the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

At the halls of immortality where the great leaders lie in state, he paid homage to them.

He and the members of the delegation were guided to the halls where the orders the great leaders received are on display and the halls that house cars, electric car, boat and train coaches used by them during their field guidance and foreign tours till the last moments of their lives.

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Both Koreas with More Consensus to Improve Bilateral Relations

South Korea and the People''s Democratic Republic of Korea (PDRK) achieved today new consensus to put to work joint projects and improve links in sectors such as infrastructure, sports, health and the military.

During the meeting at the border village of Panmunjom, delegations of both countries agreed to start by the end of November or beginning of December this year, the works that will reconnect the border roads and railways.

They also decided to soon hold military dialogues at the level of generals, to hold a meeting of the Red Cross next month centered on the issue of families separated by the war (1950-53) and return to the negotiating table at the end of October to discuss joint organization of the Olympic Games of 2032.

In the talks held this Monday, each country was represented by five-member teams that explored ways to materialize the pacts reached by the leaders of both Koreas in their third Summit of the year, celebratesd by the middle of September in Pyongyang.

Such meeting closed with the signing of a declaration that includes as most outstanding aspect the decision of the North to permanently dismantle its most important nuclear facilities in the presence of foreign experts.

Just at the beginning of this year, the PDRK opened the road to understanding, peace and denuclearization of the península and since them sustain meetings at different levels with South Korea, the United States and China to achieve those purposes.

In that context, reaffirmed its determination to resignj to its advanced nuclear and missile program -of a self-defensive nature and axis of old disputes- always there are real guarantees that threats and pressures against it will end on the part of Washington and allies in the zone.

The international community keeps alert to the process of approach with the expectation that distension is achieved in the Korean península.

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"No Way": North Korea Says Will Not Disarm Without Trust In US

United Nations, United States: North Korea's foreign minister on Saturday told the United Nations there was "no way" that his country would disarm first as long as the United States continued to push for tough enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Ri Yong Ho accused Washington of creating a deadlock in talks on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 

"The recent deadlock is because the US relies on coercive measures which are lethal to trust-building," Ri told the assembly.

"Without any trust in the US, there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances, there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first."

The United States is insisting on a "denuclearization-first" policy that "increases the level of pressure by sanctions to achieve their purpose in a coercive manner," said the foreign minister.

"The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe dream of the people who are ignorant about us."

Led by the United States, the UN Security Council adopted three sanctions resolutions last year aimed at depriving North Korea of revenue for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

A landmark summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June led to a warming of ties and a halt in Pyongyang's missile launches, but there has been little concrete progress since.

While in New York, Ri met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who agreed to return to Pyongyang next month to discuss US demands that the North scrap its weapons programs.

Pompeo will also try to arrange a second summit between Trump and Kim, whose June meeting in Singapore was the first ever between sitting leaders of the long-time enemy states.

Russia, China want sanctions relief

The North Korean foreign minister told the UN assembly that his government had stopped nuclear and missile tests, dismantled a nuclear test site and continued to make efforts to build trust.

"However we do not see any corresponding response from the US," he said.

North Korea's complaints have gotten a sympathetic ear from Russia and China, which this week called for an easing of sanctions to encourage Pyongyang to make concessions.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the "positive developments" in relations between North and South Korea -- combined with warmer US-North Korean ties -- should lead to sanctions relief.

The United States however has pushed for full enforcement of the tough measures that include a cap on oil and fuel deliveries, a ban on exports of North Korea's raw commodities and an end to contracts for its workers abroad.

China is Pyongyang's top trading partner, while Russia has welcomed tens of thousands of North Korean laborers that provide a vital source of hard currency. Human rights groups say the laborers often work in slave-like conditions. 

The United States is also hearing calls for step-by-step sanctions relief from ally South Korea, whose left-leaning President Moon Jae-in helped arrange Trump's diplomatic drive.

That view is not shared by Japan, which wants complete and verified disarming of North Korea as a condition for lifting any sanctions.

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N. Korea vows to deepen relations with Cuba

North Korea said Wednesday that it will strengthen relations with Cuba as the two marked the anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties almost six decades ago.

North Korea and Cuba have "consolidated their friendly ties in their fight for building socialism for the past 58 years," said the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers' Party of Korea, calling the ties those of "invincible" and "eternal comrades."

"Our people will continue to make active efforts to strengthen and advance the time-honored and friendly relations with Cuba based on principles of revolution and camaraderie," it added.

The newspaper also heaped praise on Cuba for making progress in improving its economy, which it said have been devastated by oppression from imperialists, apparently pointing to the sanctions imposed by the United States.

North Korea and Cuba established diplomatic ties on Aug. 29, 1960. The North recently sent high-ranking officials, including its No. 2, Choe Ryong-hae, to the island country in a bid to demonstrate their long and friendly relations.

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The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries Defended in PDRK

Pyongyang, Aug 25 (Prensa Latina) The existence of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (Mnoal), the second largest organization of countries after the UN, is being defended today in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The aforementioned defense is played by the important DPRK newspapers Rodong Sinmun (RS), the official organ of the Workers' Party of Korea (PTC) and Minju Joson (MJ), official media of the government of this country.

The fact occurs on the anniversary of the 43rd anniversary of the incorporation of North Korea into this forum of political agreement consisting of 120 member countries, plus another 15 as observers.

RS recalls that the incorporation of the DPRK in 1975 to the group of countries raised the position and prestige of Pyongyang in the international arena.

The MJ newspaper said that the DPRK will be faithful in the future also to the principles and ideal of NAM and will fulfill its mission and duty in the materialization of the independence cause throughout the world.

Both newspapers of the capital recall that at present the movement faces complicated problems such as aggressions against its member countries, wars and intervention in internal affairs of the imperialists to their affiliates.

They urged the member nations of the Mnoal to continue the fight with more audacity than ever against the aggressive and warlike maneuvers of the imperialist forces.

Rodong Sinmun and Minju Joson mention that more than eight decades after the incorporation of the DPRK into the Mnoal, this country maintains the invariable position of actively contributing to the consolidation and development of the organization, in congruence with its foreign policy of independence.

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