Pyongyang: North Korea has warned that it could restart building up its nuclear arsenal if the US fails to remove its sanctions against the country.
The warning came in a foreign ministry statement issued by Pyongyang on Friday under the name of the director of the ministry’s Institute for American Studies, insisting that “improvement of relations and sanctions is incompatible.”
The ministry further emphasized that North Korea could bring back its “pyongjin” policy of simultaneously pursuing nuclear weapons alongside economic development if the US fails to revise its position on the issue.
Pyongyang has accused the US of reneging on it commitments made by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and American President Donald Trump at their June summit in Singapore to work towards a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, without defining how and when the process would occur.
Earlier on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed in an interview with Fox News of his plans to talk next week with his North Korean counterpart, apparently referring to senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol.
The top US diplomat did not elaborate on the location and date for the meeting, which will reportedly focus on persuading Pyongyang to take stronger steps toward denuclearization and arranging a second summit between Trump and Kim.
“A lot of work remains, but I’m confident that we will keep the economic pressure in place until such time as Chairman Kim fulfills the commitment he made to President Trump back in June in Singapore,” Pompeo emphasized, without addressing North Korean concerns about massive American military presence close to its territory with regular war games with South Korea.
A senior North Korean official, meanwhile, told a security forum in Beijing that US sanctions are “confidence-destroying” and hinder the denuclearization process on the Korean Peninsula.
Song Il Hyok, deputy director general of the North Korean foreign ministry’s Institute for Disarmament and Peace, urged Washington on October 25 to “lift immediately the sanctions and this hindrance” to confidence-building.
“We think that sanctions and pressure do more harm than good,” Song emphasized as quoted by local media outlets.
Also at the forum was North Korean Colonel General Kim Hyong Ryong, who said his country was following through on declarations reached with South Korea and the US.
“It is our firm and unshakable position” to implement the joint statement with the US which will transform the Korean Peninsula, once a hot spot in the world, into a peaceful and prosperous region,” Ryong said.
On Thursday, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in declared that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will “soon” visit Seoul as part of diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.
Moon broke the news during an address before the nation’s parliament, without further details.
The South Korean president further revealed that a second North Korea-US summit was “near at hand”, and that Chinese President Xi Jinping was also expected to visit Pyongyang soon.