Date
21 February 2020
A file picture shows a banner depicting North Korean and US flags ahead of a summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 25, 2019. US says it hopes Pyongyang will return to the negotiating table on the denuclearization issue. Photo: Reuters
A file picture shows a banner depicting North Korean and US flags ahead of a summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 25, 2019. US says it hopes Pyongyang will return to the negotiating table on the denuclearization issue. Photo: Reuters

N Korea abandons nuclear freeze pledge, blames US sanctions

North Korea said on Tuesday that it is no longer bound by commitments to halt nuclear and missile testing, blaming the United States’ failure to meet a year-end deadline for nuclear talks and “brutal and inhumane” US sanctions, Reuters reports.

Ju Yong Chol, a counselor at North Korea’s mission to the UN in Geneva, said that over the past two years, his country had halted nuclear tests and test firing of inter-continental ballistic missiles “in order to build confidence with the United States”.

But the United States had responded by conducting dozens of joint military exercises with South Korea on the divided peninsula and by imposing sanctions, he said.

“As it became clear now that the US remains unchanged in its ambition to block the development of the DPRK and stifle its political system, we found no reason to be unilaterally bound any longer by the commitment that the other party fails to honor,” Ju told the UN-backed Conference on Disarmament.

Speaking as the envoy from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea’s official name, Ju accused the United States of applying “the most brutal and inhumane sanctions”.

“If the US persists in such hostile policy toward the DPRK there will never be the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” he said.

“If the United States tries to enforce unilateral demands and persists in imposing sanctions, North Korea may be compelled to seek a new path.”

US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood voiced concern at Pyongyang’s remarks and said Washington hopes the North would return to the negotiating table.

“What we hope is that they will do the right thing and come back to the table and try to work out an arrangement whereby we can fulfill that pledge that was made by President Trump and Chairman Kim to denuclearize,” he said.

South Korean Ambassador Jang-keun Lee said there must be substantial progress in denuclearization to “maintain and build upon the hard-won momentum for dialogue”.

“Therefore, early resumption of negotiations between the United States and the DPRK is critical,” he said.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC