SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea will not give up its nuclear arms unless the “US nuclear threat to Korea” is eliminated, North Korean state media said on Thursday.
The statement carried by North Korea’s official Korea Central News Agency is a particularly blunt indication that the two countries are still far apart on their ideas of what “denuclearisation” means on the Korean Peninsula.”
In a historic summit meeting in June, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong UN vowed to work toward “complete denuclearisation” on the peninsula but without detailed agreements on how it will be achieved.
Since his June meeting with Kim, Trump has claimed progress in negotiations with North Korea, but talks appear to have stalled as Pyongyang has been demanding the removal of international sanctions as a precondition for denuclearisation.
The North Korean statement said “the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” includes elimination of not only the North’s nuclear arms but also “the United States’ nuclear weapons and other invading forces in South Korea.”
A number of analysts had long warned after the Trump-Kim summit that North Korea had little intention of just giving up its weapons without substantial concessions in return from the United States.
“The statement shows that North Korea is not necessarily on the same terms as the US on the idea of denuclearisation. Pyongyang has constantly took issue with the U.S.’s ‘nuclear umbrella’ over South Korea,” said Woo Jung-yeop, a researcher at South Korea’s Sejong Institute.
The United States withdrew its tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, but continues to operate nuclear-armed bombers and submarines that can reach Korea from elsewhere.
Woo said the blunt statement on state media can be seen as heightened provocation from Pyongyang seeking to raise the stakes for potential second summit between Trump and Kim.
Trump has said he plans to hold the summit in January or February, though he tweeted last week that he is “in no hurry” as the talks are going “just fine” at the moment.