Denuclearisation is off the negotiating table with the US, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said in a strongly-worded statement that also criticized EU member nations for playing “the role of pet dog” to Washington.
Ambassador Kim Song said that the “sustained and substantial dialogue” sought by the US with Pyongyang was a trick done to suit its domestic political agenda, according the statement, which was first reported by Reuters.
“We do not need to have lengthy talks with the US now and denuclearization is already gone out of the negotiating table,” Kim said.
The envoy’s letter comes at a sensitive time in US-North Korea relations. Pyongyang may be preparing to conduct engine tests at a long-range rocket launch site to dial up pressure on President Donald Trump ahead of a year-end deadline it imposed to get a better deal from the US in nuclear disarmament talks.
The US has said it’s ready to engage in talks, but Saturday’s missive suggests Pyongyang is pulling away.
On Friday, the US indicated it was withholding its support from hosting a human rights debate on North Korea next week, in what was seen as an effort to avoid antagonizing the North Koreans. US allies, including Germany, France, Belgium and the UK, have sought to hold such a meeting on December 10, but would need US backing to do so.
In his statement, Song referenced the December 4 joint statement from six EU member states regarding North Korea as “yet another serious provocation.” He also defended tests of Pyongyang’s “super-large” multiple rocket launcher in November as necessary for self-defense. “These countries often take issue with our self-defensive measures,” Song wrote. “We have never ever recognized such ‘resolution’ aimed at obliterating our sovereignty and the right to existence.”
As tensions rise, the warm relationship between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un —who’ve met three times since 2018 — has shown signs of strain.
‘Rocket Man’ Returns
Trump has revived his “Rocket Man” nickname for Kim as well as the threat of military force against North Korea. A North Korean official has again used the term “dotard,” or mentally weak old person, for the US president. A return to North Korean ballistic missile and weapons testing, if it happened, would undermine what Trump considers one of his key foreign policy achievements.
Trump spoke by telephone with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, the White House said. The pair discussed issues related to the Korean peninsula and developments in North Korea. Meanwhile North Korea said it conducted a “very important test” at its long-range projectile launch site.
The outcome was “successful” and will play a key part in changing North Korea’s strategic position in the near future, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a statement on Sunday, citing a spokesman at the Academy of the National Defense Science. It didn’t elaborate or say what was tested.
The Sohae Launch Facility, which Kim Jong Un once said he dismantled in a concession to President Donald Trump, was being monitored for possible missile or engine tests since a satellite image from Thursday showed new activity. A South Korean presidential official was reported as saying Sunday that the country is “closely watching” the situation after the test was announced. The statement suggests that “it’s likely a test of a solid-fuel engine for intercontinental ballistic missiles,” said Kim Dong-yub, head of the research at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.