North Korea is close to giving up on discussions with the US, a senior Pyongyang official announced on Friday, and may resume testing of its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
In a hastily arranged press conference, Choe Son-hui, the deputy foreign minister, expressed disappointment at the failure of the recent summit in Hanoi between Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and US President Donald Trump.
“We have no intention to yield to the US demands in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind”, Mrs Choe was quoted as saying by Russia’s TASS news agency. She added that the US had missed “a golden opportunity” in Vietnam to solve their differences.
Mrs Choe added that Pyongyang had been “deeply disappointed” at the failure of the two leaders to reach agreement in Hanoi last month and called on Washington to drop its demands for full denuclearisation of the North before sanctions are lifted.
She added that North Korea will not cede any ground in the stand-off.
Mrs Choe added that Mr Kim will make a decision soon on whether to continue to exercise restraint in the testing of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful,” she said.
Mr Trump has said little about the future of negotiations with the North since walking out of the summit in Hanoi. The US side is understood to have demanded the complete dismantling of the North’s nuclear and missile programmes, as well as the disposal of its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.
Those demands apparently caught the North Korean delegation by surprise. Mr Kim had apparently been anticipating concessions to his demands that the US carry out a phased lifting of the international sanctions on his regime.
State media in the North has attempted to gloss over the failure of the talks, although rumours are spreading among ordinary North Korean people that Mr Kim was embarrassed at the summit and left empty-handed.
It is not clear whether Mrs Choe’s comments are simply designed to put pressure on Washington or how soon the North might recommence nuclear or missile tests, although satellite images have indicated that work is underway to rebuild the Dongchang-ri rocket launch facility and the Sanumdong missile research centre, near Pyongyang.
A spokesman for the Blue House, the office of the South Korean president, said that it is watching developments in the North and was unable to assess the North Korean minister’s comments in isolation.
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