North Korea’s Foreign Ministry called negotiations with America on its illegal nuclear development “sickening” in a statement Sunday, accusing Washington of offering “empty hope” and refusing any further talks in the near future.
The impassioned statement followed the collapse of “working-level” talks in Sweden this weekend. North Korea’s top negotiator claimed the talks collapsed because his American counterparts were intransigent in discussing potential relief for North Korea, but the State Department replied to his remarks by claiming the conversations went well and the American diplomats felt confident they had made progress.
North Korea has been under an unprecedentedly strict international sanctions regime since late 2017, when it conducted its last nuclear test to date. The United Nations Security Council – including its closest ally, China – agreed to the sanctions and are still nominally supporting them, though evidence regularly surfaces of the Chinese communist regime violating the sanctions to benefit dictator Kim Jong-un.
The talks between Washington and Pyongyang this weekend were the first since President Donald Trump walked out of an in-person meeting with Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February, telling reporters Kim was insisting on sanctions relief in exchange for no concessions, making negotiation impossible.
“We approached the negotiations with expectations and optimism that the U.S. side would think and act in a proper way as it had persistently requested for the opening of the negotiations by sending repeated signals that it was ready for dialogue based on ‘a new method’ and ‘creative solution,'” an unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement published by regime media. “However, the trite stance shown by the delegates of the U.S. side at the negotiations venue made us feel that our expectations were no better than an empty hope and rather increased a doubt as to whether the U.S. truly has a stand to solve the issue through dialogue.”
The statement did not specify what the American negotiators said to outrage the North Koreans so much, instead stating that they “repeated equivocal insistence that consecutive and intensive negotiations are necessary.”
“The U.S. has actually not made any preparations for the negotiations but sought to meet its political goal of abusing the DPRK-U.S. dialogue for its domestic political events on schedule,” the statement continued, implying that President Trump was using nuclear talks to boost his chance of reelection in 2020 despite how low North Korea ranks in lists of issues concerning American voters.
“The greater the expectations, the greater the disappointment,” the North Korean spokesperson lamented, claiming that the State Department had lied in claiming that both sides had “a wonderful discussion.”
“The recent negotiations have left us skeptical about the U.S. political will to improve the DPRK-U.S. relations and made us think if it isn’t its real intention to abuse the bilateral relations for gratifying its party interests,” the statement continued.
As for talks in the future, the Foreign Ministry stated it had “no intention to hold such sickening negotiations as what happened this time before the U.S. takes a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy toward the DPRK [North Korea].”
The Foreign Ministry did not mention sanctions at any point in its statement, much less demand sanctions relief openly. Yet President Trump has repeatedly stated he would not grant sanctions relief until North Korea could definitively prove it had ended its illegal nuclear program and Pyongyang officials have repeatedly demanded sanctions relief before progress on denuclearization, most recently in Hanoi.
Also significantly hurting talks between North Korea and the United States is the fact that North Korea has refused to accept America’s definition of “denuclearization” – that is, an end to North Korea’s illegal nuclear weapons program. Instead, Pyongyang defines “denuclearization” as the removal of all U.S. troops and military assets from the Korean peninsula, claiming that, as America is legitimately a nuclear power, its presence there “nuclearizes” the region.
North Korea and the United States have been technically at war since 1950; China and South Korea are on either side of that war as well, respectively. The four parties signed an armistice agreement that ended active hostilities in 1953, but never signed a peace treaty, so they are still at war – making America’s presence in South Korea necessary for the security of that country.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry’s outburst on Sunday followed remarks by Kim Myong-gil, the top nuclear negotiator sent to Sweden this weekend, claiming that the talks were a failure because of the American diplomats’ “attitude.”
“The negotiations have not fulfilled our expectation and finally broke off,” Kim said. “The U.S. raised expectations by offering suggestions like a flexible approach, new method and creative solutions, but they have disappointed us greatly and dampened our enthusiasm for negotiation by bringing nothing to the negotiation table.”
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus issued a response dismissing Kim’s outrage, stating that his remarks did “not reflect the content or the spirit of today’s 8 1/2 hour discussion. The U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts.”
“The U.S. delegation previewed a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress in each of the four pillars of the Singapore joint statement,” Ortagus said. “At the conclusion of our discussions, the United States proposed to accept the invitation of our Swedish hosts to return to Stockholm to meet again in two weeks time, in order to continue discussions on all of the topics. The United States delegation has accepted this invitation.”
North Korea’s state media followed the condemnation from the nation’s top diplomats with articles decrying the “moral degeneration of man” at the hands of capitalism” and embracing Washington’s biggest international threat, the Chinese Communist Party.
“Advocates of capitalism slander socialism and preach the ‘eternity’ of capitalist society more often than not. But the world sees it festering and falling like the setting sun,” state newspaper Rodong Sinmun remarked on Monday. “Capitalism, fraught with serious contradiction, is doomed to ruin.”
“The corrupt nature of capitalism finds its vivid manifestation in the political life of people,” the newspaper claimed. “No genuine political freedom and rights can be found in this society where capitalist class rules everything and the toiling working masses are left out of political life.”
Kim Jong-un personally sent a message of friendship to Chinese dictator Xi Jinping on Monday, state media noted, celebrating the 70th anniversary of genocidal communist rule in that country and diplomatic ties between the two nations.
“I, firmly holding hands together with Comrade General Secretary [Xi Jinping], will strengthen and develop the DPRK-China friendship as desired by the peoples of the two countries to be envied by the world, and steadily defend the cause of socialism and preserve peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the world by dint of friendship and unity,” Kim vowed in his message. “We are rejoiced as over our own over the fact that the fraternal Chinese people celebrated the 70th founding anniversary of the PRC as a great national jubilee.”