US threw away 'golden opportunity,' says North Korea

After the failed nuclear summit talks in Hanoi, Pyongyang says the onus is on the United States if diplomatic talks are to continue. A senior official spoke to reporters for an hour on Friday, saying Kim Jong Un will decide very soon whether to resume nuclear testing. 

Eric Talmadge/AP
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui (seated, c.) speaks at a gathering for diplomats in Pyongyang, North Korea on Friday, March 15, 2019. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will soon decide whether to continue diplomatic talks and maintain the country's moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, the senior North Korean official said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will soon decide whether to continue diplomatic talks and maintain his moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, a senior North Korean official said Friday, adding that the United States threw away a golden opportunity at the recent summit between their leaders.

Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, addressing a meeting of diplomats and foreign media, including The Associated Press, in Pyongyang said the North was deeply disappointed by the failure of the two sides to reach any agreements at the Hanoi summit between Mr. Kim and President Donald Trump.

She said Pyongyang now has no intention of compromising or continuing talks unless the U.S. takes measures that are commensurate to the changes it has taken – such as the 15-month moratorium on launches and tests – and changes its "political calculation."

Ms. Choe, who attended the Feb. 27-28 talks in Hanoi, said Mr. Kim was puzzled by what she called the "eccentric" negotiation position of the U.S. She suggested that while Mr. Trump was more willing to talk, an atmosphere of hostility and mistrust was created by the uncompromising demands of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. She said statements by senior Trump advisers since the summit have further worsened the climate.

Even so, she said personal relations between the two leaders are still good "and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful."
She said it was entirely up to Mr. Kim whether to continue the launch and test moratorium, and said she expects he will "clarify his position" within a short period of time.

"On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission said. 'For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?' " she said. "I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the U.S. will eventually put the situation in danger. We have neither the intention to compromise with the U.S. in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation."

Ms. Choe questioned the claim by Mr. Trump at a news conference after the talks in Hanoi broke down that the North was seeking the lifting of all sanctions against it, and said it was seeking only the ones that are directed at its civilian economy. After the summit had ended, State Department officials clarified that was indeed the North's position, but said the lifting of economic sanctions was such a big demand that it would essentially subsidize the North's continued nuclear activity.

Ms. Choe said it was the U.S. that was being too demanding and inflexible and called the demand that denuclearization come before sanctions are eased "an absurd sophism." She added that while South Korean President Moon Jae-in has tried to help bring the U.S. and North Korea together to talk, the South is "a player, not an arbiter" because it is an ally of Washington.

She said even though the people, military, and officials of the munitions industry have sent Mr. Kim thousands of petitions to never give up the nuclear program, he went to Hanoi to build trust and carry out mutually agreed commitments "one by try and step by step."

"What is clear is that the U.S. has thrown away a golden opportunity this time," she said. "I'm not sure why the U.S. came out with this different description. We never asked for the removal of sanctions in their entirety."

"This time we understood very clearly that the United States has a very different calculation to ours," she added.

She refused to comment directly when asked by one of the ambassadors about news reports the North may be preparing for another missile launch or satellite launch.

"Whether to maintain this moratorium or not is the decision of our chairman of the state affairs commission," she said, using one of Mr. Kim's titles. "He will make his decision in a short period of time."

Journalists were not allowed to ask questions during the briefing, which lasted nearly an hour.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.