North Korea slams United States for an “evil” sanctions push

Vastavam web: North Korea’s state media on Tuesday slammed the United States for an “evil” attempt to maintain sanctions against Pyongyang, accusing President Donald Trump of blocking progress in inter-Korean relations. The declaration threatens to upset the negotiations between Washington and the nuclear-armed North, in which Trump is expected to hold a second summit soon with Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un.

At their first meeting in Singapore in June they signed a vaguely-worded pledge on denuclearisation, but little progress has been made since then with the two sides sparring over the meaning of the text. For its part Washington has been adamant the measures should be maintained until Pyongyang’s complete denuclearisation.

Washington was playing a “double game”, said a lengthy commentary carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency, and was “little short of destroying” the rare diplomatic opportunity between the two. “Hostile policy and reciprocity can not go together,” it said, and negotiations would not move forward “an inch with an obstacle called sanctions”. “The US is responding to good faith with evil,” it added. No further details about its origins or the author’s affiliation were given, suggesting that “Kim Chol Myong” is likely to be a pseudonym.

But the fact that it was carried by Pyongyang’s official news agency indicates that it has the authorities’ approval. It was published just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang and said he had “productive” talks on denuclearisation with the North Korean leader. After an earlier Pompeo visit in July the North issued an angrily-worded official foreign ministry statement condemning what it called his “unilateral” demands for its disarmament, describing them as “gangster-like”.

But Tuesday’s declaration went further, implicitly criticising the US leader — who is known to consider personal relationships important. Without naming Trump, it referred to his comments last week that Seoul would not lift its own sanctions against the North “without our approval”. “Even the White House made such threatening words,” KCNA said, “enraging not only south Koreans but all other Koreans”. South Korea’s dovish President Moon Jae-in — who has held three meetings with Kim this year — has vowed to honour the UN sanctions but agreed to pursue a handful of joint economic projects with the North.