SEOUL — North Korea warned Sunday that if the United States continued to escalate its sanctions and human rights campaign against the North, that approach could permanently shatter any chance of denuclearizing the country.
Washington is holding fast to its policy of exerting maximum economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, even though President Trump has claimed progress in denuclearizing the North since his meeting with its leader, Kim Jong Un, in June in Singapore.
In the months after the Trump-Kim meeting, Washington has continued to crack down on companies, individuals and ships accused of engaging in such banned activities as money laundering, cyberattacks and ship-to-ship transfer of fuel on North Korea’s behalf.
On Sunday, North Korea voiced its growing frustration, as Washington persisted in its efforts to squeeze the country with additional sanctions over its dismal rights record. Last Monday, the Treasury Department blacklisted three top aides to Kim over serious rights abuses and censorship.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry said Sunday that if senior State Department and other U.S. officials believed they could force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons by increasing sanctions and their “human rights racket to an unprecedented level,” it would be the “greatest miscalculation.”
Instead, the statement added, “it will block the path to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula forever — a result desired by no one.” The statement, issued in the name of the policy research director of the North’s Institute for American Studies, was carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.
The warning came amid a prolonged stalemate in negotiations between North Korea and the United States over the terms of denuclearization.
In recent weeks, Trump has appeared to recognize the time-consuming nature of negotiating with the North, tweeting about North Korea far less than he used to. He has said that he and Kim are likely to meet a second time, in January or February. But he has also said he was “in no hurry” to negotiate with North Korea.
By Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times
First published by NYT
Republished by SF Chronicle
The 21st Century