North Korea threatened Wednesday to cancel the forthcoming summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump if Washington seeks to push Pyongyang into unilaterally giving up its nuclear arsenal.
It is a sudden and dramatic return to the the rhetoric of the past by Pyongyang, after months of rapid diplomatic rapprochement on the peninsula.
In that case, he added, Pyongyang would have to “reconsider” its participation at the summit, due in Singapore on June 12.
The North’s arsenal is expected to be at the top of the agenda of the historic talks, but Pyongyang has long insisted it needs the weapons to defend itself against invasion by the US.
Pyongyang had “made clear on several occasions that precondition for denuclearisation is to put an end to anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmail of the United States”, minister Kim said.
It was a “sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq”, he said. “I cannot suppress indignation at such moves of the US, and harbour doubt about the US sincerity.”
Tightrope diplomacy –
In recent weeks, as well as an eye-catching summit with the South’s leader last month in the Demilitarized Zone, Kim has twice met Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pyongyang has announced it will destroy its nuclear testing site next week.
US officials have repeatedly claimed credit for Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy for bringing Pyongyang to the negotiating table.
Joshua Pollack of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies said Pyongyang had been irritated by the “triumphalist tone”.
“The North Koreans aren’t happy with what they’re seeing and hearing,” he said. “There is still a yawning gulf between expectations for diplomacy in Pyongyang and Washington, DC.”
Earlier KCNA denounced the Max Thunder joint military exercises being held between the US and South Korea as a “rude and wicked provocation”, and Seoul said it had received a message cancelling planned high-level talks “indefinitely”.
Washington said it will continue to plan the meeting in Singapore on June 12, with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert telling reporters it had received “no notification” of a position change by North Korea.