North Korea is upping the ante ahead of a possible second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, with a threat to resume its nuclear development program if the US-led sanctions against it are not lifted, AP reports.
At the heart of the threat is the word pyongjin, which refers to the “dual advancement” of nuclear forces and economic development.
A statement released Friday evening (Nov. 2) by the North Korean foreign ministry’s Institute for American Studies reads:
“If the US keeps behaving arrogantly without showing any change in its stand, while failing to properly understand our repeated demand, the DPRK may add one thing to the state policy for directing all efforts to the economic construction adopted in April and as a result, the word ‘pyongjin’ may appear again… The US thinks that its oft-repeated ‘sanctions and pressure’ leads to ‘denuclearization.’ We cannot help laughing at such a foolish idea.”
It’s the first time the North has openly threatened to resume its nuclear weapons program since Kim signaled a new stance in April, when he declared he would stop all missile tests and close a nuclear test site.
Shortly after the statement’s release, monitoring site 38 North posted satellite images that it says suggest the country hasn’t halted uranium mining at Pyongsan, one of the nation’s biggest uranium-ore facilities. 38 North noted that “any denuclearization agreement will require North Korea not to acquire natural uranium, a key material in the process to produce highly enriched uranium for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.”
North Korea has repeatedly demanded the US drop sanctions in exchange for it freezing its nuclear program. Last year the UN Security Council, with prodding from the US and approval from China, passed a flurry of sanctions against the country. The US has veto power on the council, giving Trump an upper hand against Kim (paywall).
Earlier this week, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea was getting ready to allow international inspectors to visit some of its nuclear and missile sites.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart are scheduled to meet next week to discuss denuclearization and, possibly, set up a second summit between Trump and Kim. North Korea’s statement yesterday may be a way to improve its negotiating position ahead of that meeting.