North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Monday asked the U.S. to drop sanctions in light of the nation’s good faith gestures of returning the remains of American troops killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War, and because North Korea has ostensibly ended nuclear weapons testing.
In their Monday post, Rodong Sinmun reportedly accused Washington of “acting opposite” its plan to improve ties.
“There have been outrageous arguments coming out of the U.S. State Department that it won’t ease sanctions until a denuclearization is completed, and reinforcing sanctions is a way to raise its negotiating power,” Rodong Sinmun wrote. “How could the sanctions, which were a stick the U.S. administration had brandished as part of its hostile policy against us, promote the two countries’ amity?”
According to Reuters, “Maeri, another North Korean website, stressed the need for U.S. action to build confidence in response to the North’s moves to end weapons program and send back the remains.”
“It takes two to tango,” Maeri wrote.
According to Reuters, North Korea’s request to drop sanctions arrived on the heels of South Korea’s announcement that it is investigating nine cases of allegedly illegal coal shipments, disguised as Russian products, that potentially violated United Nations resolutions. It also comes several days after a confidential U.N. report concluded that the North had not stopped its nuclear and missile programs, which violates U.N. resolutions.
Last month, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said getting North Korea to dismantle its nuclear and missiles programs “is a decades-long challenge.”
The State Department, to dispel any misunderstanding, clarified that Pompeo’s use of “decades” was in reference to how long the U.S. has been confronted by the threat of a nuclear weapons program in North Korea, and not a timeline for resolving the crisis.
A report from Voice of America (VOA) last month revealed that two ships, one from Sierra Leone and another from Panama, were involved with the illegal shipment of North Korean coal to South Korea. The two ships had recently re-entered South Korea’s ports multiple times in violation of international law and the South had reportedly cracked down in response to this.