North Korea is­sues nu­clear threat ahead of high-level talks with US

The Miracle - - National & Int -

As the United States and North Korea pre­pare for an­other round of high-level talks this week, Py­ongyang’s in­creas­ingly heated rhetoric has an­a­lysts wor­ried that the stale­mate be­tween the two sides could lead to a break­down in ne­go­ti­a­tions. An of­fi­cial with North Korea’s For­eign Min­istry is­sued a veiled threat Fri­day, warn­ing that Py­ongyang could restart “build­ing up nu­clear forces” if the US does not ease the crip­pling sanc­tions levied on North Korea. The com­ments come ahead of Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo’s meet­ing with his North Korean coun­ter­part, Kim Yong Chol, in New York this week. The piece, car­ried in North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA, ac­cused Wash­ing­ton of be­liev­ing the “fool­ish idea that the DPRK came out to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble, yield­ing to the sanc­tions” and fail­ing to un­der­stand that “the im­prove­ment of re­la­tions and sanc­tions are in­com­pat­i­ble.” The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has long held that sanc­tions levied on North Korea by the United Na­tions and the US would not be lifted un­til North Korea gave up its nu­clear weapons and the world com­mu­nity was able to ver­ify that it had done so. Pom­peo called the com­men­tary “stray volt­age” in an in­ter­view with CBS News and said he’s not wor­ried about rhetoric from North Korean me­dia. “We know with whom we’re ne­go­ti­at­ing. We know what their po­si­tions are. And Pres­i­dent Trump has made his po­si­tion very clear: no eco­nomic re­lief un­til we have achieved our ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive,” he said. Risk of talks col­laps­ing Ex­perts say the hard­line ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tions staked out by both sides have re­sulted in a pro­tracted stale­mate. North Korea is only will­ing to give up its nu­clear weapons once it has es­tab­lished a peace­ful and trust­ing re­la­tion­ship with the United States; the United States is only will­ing to form a peace­ful re­la­tion­ship with North Korea un­til af­ter it gives up its nu­clear weapons. This type of pos­tur­ing could eas­ily spi­ral out of con­trol, as it did in 2017, says Adam Mount, a se­nior fel­low and the di­rec­tor of the De­fense Pos­ture Project at the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Sci­en­tists. “This is a more direct threat to col­lapse talks and re­sume the nu­clear pro­gram at full speed than we’ve seen since ne­go­ti­a­tions since started. So in that re­gards it’s a shift from their pre­vi­ous po­si­tion,” Mount said. How­ever, ex­perts like Mount say the North Korean po­si­tion does not come as a to­tal sur­prise -- stak­ing out hard­line po­si­tions in state me­dia ahead of diplo­matic meet­ings has long been a fa­vored tac­tic in Py­ongyang’s play­book. “It’s a clear play for lever­age, it’s a clear play to set the agenda in the up­com­ing round of diplo­macy, but there’s still a very real risk that it does se­ri­ously dam­age the ne­go­ti­a­tion process.”

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