'Our country is not Libya or Iraq': N. Korea may reconsider Trump-Kim summit if guaranteed safety
Pyongyang is not interested in any negotiations that envisage only unilateral denuclearization without guarantees North Korea won’t be left totally defenseless like Libya in case of aggression, deputy foreign minister has said.
Criticizing Washington’s demands for unilateral concessions and unconditional “nuclear abandonment,” North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye-gwan recalled the eventual fate of Libya and said such negotiations style is unacceptable for Pyongyang.
“This is not an attempt to solve the problem through dialogue but rather the manifestation ...to force the destiny of the collapsed Libya and Iraq to our dignified state,” Kim said, according to KCNA.
The US invaded Iraq in 2003, claiming Baghdad possessed weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were ever found. That same year, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi offered to shut down the country's nuclear weapons research. Libyan nuclear materials were transferred to the US. In 2011, however, the US and its NATO allies backed an armed rebellion that overthrew and killed Gaddafi and plunged Libya into chaos.
“I doubt whether the United States really wants sound dialogue and negotiation,” Kim added, again noting that “the world is so well aware that our country is not Libya or Iraq.”
Denouncing the ongoing “sanctions pressure offensive” against the North, he accused Washington of misrepresenting North Korea’s “generosity and bold measures as an expression of weakness.”
Last week, as a sign of goodwill, North Korea went on to release three Americans detainees accused of espionage – Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Dong Chul – removing one of the main obstacles ahead of the June 12 summit in Singapore. In another peaceful gesture, the North pledged to place a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing and in the spirit of transparency invited foreign journalists to watch the nuclear test site shutdown, scheduled for May 23-25.
“We will not be interested in talks anymore if (they) only try to push us unilaterally into a corner and force us to give up nukes,” he said. “It would be inevitable to reconsider whether to respond to the upcoming summit with the US.”
Deputy FM’s remarks came a day after Pyongyang’s decision to cancel negotiations triggered by Max Thunder 2018 military exercises between the South and the US, which are viewed by the North as a rehearsal for the invasion of the DPRK and a provocation amid warming inter-Korean ties.
“This training is aimed at .. and is a deliberate challenge to the Panmunjom declaration and is a deliberate military provocation,” KCNA wrote on Wednesday. “This training... reflects the unchanging attitude of the US and South Korea to continue 'maximum pressure and sanctions' against us.”
Washington however still aims to hold the Trump-Kim meeting as planned and has defended the right to conduct drills with its Asian ally.
“We have not heard anything from that government or the Government of South Korea to indicate that we would not continue conducting these exercises or that we would not continue planning for our meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un next month,” State Department's spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Tuesday.
“I will say that Kim Jong-un had said previously that he understands the need and the utility of the United States and the Republic of Korea continuing in its joint exercises. They’re exercises that are legal; they’re planned well, well in advance,” she added.
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