North Korea’s former top nuclear envoy said Sunday the close ties between the leaders of the regime and the US have a limited impact on their stalled denuclearization talks, stressing the year-end deadline for Washington to reconsider its negotiation method is fast approaching.
“The US is seriously mistaken if it is of the idea of passing off in peace the end of this year, by exploiting the close personal relations between its president and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK for the delaying tactics,” Kim Yong-chol, chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, said in a statement released by the North’s state-run Korea Central News Agency.
Kim Yong-chol (left, front row), chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee of North Korea. (KCNA)
The deadline was set by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April, when talks stalled in the wake of a failed summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February.
The senior North Korean official said relations with the US have been maintained thanks to the personal relationship between the two leaders but “there is a limit to everything.”
“The DPRK-US relations could have been derailed and fallen apart several times due to hostile acts and habitual wrong practices,” said Kim Yong-chol, a hard-line military commander who is also vice chairman of the ruling party’s central committee.
Washington’s calls for North Korea to come up with a new approach for “final, fully verified denuclearization” -- the US’ ultimate goal for North Korea’s denuclearization -- at the First Committee of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 22 touched a nerve, Kim said.
“The US is persistently pressurizing other countries into implementing the UN ‘sanctions resolutions’ and is leaving no stone unturned to get the anti-DPRK resolutions passed in the UN General Assembly, using its satellite countries,” he said.
Further detailing “belligerent” remarks by the US, Kim criticized the US strategic forces commander nominee for calling the North “a rogue state,” adding that the “war-like forces of the US military are reportedly planning nuclear strike exercises against the DPRK.”
“The US trumpets the crucial measures taken by the DPRK for confidence building as its own ‘diplomatic gains’ but no substantial progress has been made in the DPRK-US relations and belligerent relations still persist that there can be exchange of fire any moment,” he said.
On Oct. 24, North Korean Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye-gwan issued a statement touting the “special relationship” between the North Korean ruler and the US president. He criticized Washington’s policymakers and the political circle for their hostility toward the regime, saying they are “preoccupied with the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice.”
North Korea held working-level talks with the US in Sweden on Oct. 5, but the North walked away from the meeting, accusing the US delegation of failing to offer any new proposals.
Diplomatic sources here said US negotiators mainly pitched ideas and initiatives while their North Korean counterparts kept silent during the meeting. They seemed to have had insufficient time to exchange proposals on North Korea’s denuclearization steps and the US’ reciprocal measures in detail, given it was their first working-level dialogue in seven months.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org