North Korea backing out again?

North Korea is back to its old habits of fiery remarks and hostility after announcing Tuesday, May 15th that the country will not continue with U.S. negotiations if the U.S. demands total nuclear disarmament.

“If the United States is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interest in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the D.P.R.K.-U.S. summit,” read a statement from North Korea’s vice-minister of foreign affairs, Kim Kye-kwan. His remarks have raised the question whether both countries will continue with their plan to meet and discuss future negotiations, planned for June 12th in Singapore.

The hostility from North Korea is thought to be in reaction to joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. Korean Central News Agency — Pyongyang’s states news agency — called the exercises “provocative military disturbances,” announcing that North Korea was suspending discussions with South Korea as well.  

But while the comments from North Korea have some concerned, the White House says negotiations are still on target. President Donald Trump claimed they had been given no official word otherwise from North Korea or its leader Kim Jong-Un.

“We haven’t seen anything, we haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens,” Trump told reporters May 16th.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the intent of the U.S. to proceed with the June 12th summit, saying “we are still hopeful that the meeting will take place and we will continue down that path, but at the same time we’ve been prepared that these could be tough negotiations.”

It has been widely suggested, however, that the recent assertion made by Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton did not maximize the likelihood of success next month with North Korea. Bolton pointed to “the Libyan model” as the example for North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons. In 2003, the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi voluntarily abandoned his nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and other economic benefits that never fully materialized. Several years later, his regime was toppled by a U.S.-supported uprising, and Gaddafi was captured and killed. So Bolton’s comparison was hardly the thing to engender confidence on the part of Kim Jong-Un.

Every U.S. president since 1986 has attempted through different negotiations and sanctions to get North Korea to end its nuclear warfare program. None have been successful.


by Nor Tengku  (London, UK)

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