N.Korea warns it may re­turn to nuke pol­icy

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

North Korea has warned the United States it will “se­ri­ously” con­sider re­turn­ing to a state pol­icy aimed at build­ing nu­clear weapons if Wash­ing­ton does not end tough eco­nomic sanc­tions against the coun­try.

For years, the North had pur­sued a “byungjin” pol­icy of si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­vel­op­ing its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties along­side the econ­omy.

In April, cit­ing a “fresh cli­mate of de­tente and peace” on the penin­sula, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un de­clared the nu­clear quest com­plete and said his coun­try would fo­cus on “so­cial­ist eco­nomic con­struc­tion.”

But a state­ment is­sued by the North’s for­eign min­istry said Pyongyang could re­vert to its for­mer pol­icy if the US did not change its stance over sanc­tions.

“The word ‘ byungjin’ may ap­pear again and the change of the line could be se­ri­ously re­con­sid­ered,” said the state­ment car­ried by the of­fi­cial KCNA news agency.

At a his­toric sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore in June, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Kim signed a vaguely worded state­ment on de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

But lit­tle progress has been made since then, with Wash­ing­ton push­ing to main­tain sanc­tions against the North un­til its “fi­nal, fully ver­i­fied de­nu­cle­ariza­tion” and Pyongyang con­demn­ing US de­mands as “gang­ster-like.”

“The im­prove­ment of re­la­tions and sanc­tions are in­com­pat­i­ble,” said the state­ment, re­leased un­der the name of the di­rec­tor of the for­eign min­istry’s In­sti­tute for Amer­i­can Stud­ies.

“What re­mains to be done is the US cor­re­spond­ing re­ply,” it added.

The state­ment is the lat­est sign of Pyongyang’s in­creas­ing frus­tra­tion with Wash­ing­ton.

Last month, the North’s state me­dia car­ried a near- 1,700-word-long com­men­tary ac­cus­ing the US of play­ing a “dou­ble game,” im­plic­itly crit­i­ciz­ing Trump for his com­ments aimed at bar­ring Seoul from lift­ing sanc­tions against Pyongyang.

De­spite a flurry of diplo­macy on and around the penin­sula dif­fer­ences are emerg­ing be­tween Seoul and Wash­ing­ton, which sta­tions 28,500 troops in the South to pro­tect it from its nu­clear-armed neigh­bor.

The South’s dovish pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in has long fa­vored en­gage­ment with the North, which is sub­ject to mul­ti­ple UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tions over its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams.

He has dan­gled large in­vest­ment and joint cross-border projects as in­cen­tives for steps to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, while the US has been adamant that pres­sure should be main­tained on Pyongyang un­til it fully dis­man­tles its weapons pro­grams.

In an in­ter­view with Fox News on Fri­day, US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo re­it­er­ated that sanc­tions will re­main un­til Pyongyang car­ries out de­nu­cle­ariza­tion com­mit­ments made in Sin­ga­pore, adding he will meet with his North Korean coun­ter­part this week.

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